Holding the badge of “Creative” in the unforgiving, fast-paced agency environment demands an imaginative view on the world. Mental blocks will not be tolerated.
To think creatively means thinking imaginatively, to come up with original ideas. Preparation for creative thinking therefore relies quite considerably on mind expansion, absorbing as much of the world as possible, with its people and places all providing a different emotional stimulant.
A vast number of methods have been explored throughout history when originality has been required in the arts, from psychedelic substances to the hue of studio walls. In this blog post I will describe my own approach to reaching this creative state of mind.
Light Bulb Moments
Creative individuals from all sorts of industries have made sure they carry a notepad with them wherever they go. This is because they understand the mind has a tendency to make random use of the imaginative part of the brain and develop an idea, without a single word being written down. Notepad portability is a prerequisite, since the most mundane of tasks such as walking the dog or washing the dishes have seemed favourable stomping grounds for creative thought.
Unplanned and random, this method of idea generation has no control. How deadlines are ever met is beyond comprehension, the agency whirlwind leaves nearly every employee's inbox uprooted with daily deadlines. Being ready for moments of genius by carrying a notepad is one thing, but trying to predict when these moments will occur is a whole different ball game.
Living and breathing one’s industry has its perks, keeping up to date with the newest trends, for example, but where does originality come from if you're simply copying what's already out there? People are generally followers, so it would be no surprise to find that the group of leaders out there, setting trends, is significantly smaller. Creative people, by their very title, are assumed to be constantly pushing boundaries, and able to offer a different quality or style. Maintaining a state of flux in an “always on” society is the real test of worth for holding the Creative badge.
From an early age, we’ve been trained to follow rules, conform and blend in. Not the case for creative types - they need to stand out and present the world with their own style. As I’ve said, agency life requires prolific idea generation and will test originality. Time is our currency, little is spared for the random one-hit-wonder - quantity often overrides quality. Light bulbs need to be constantly flickering and ready to shine. In my case, reaching this state of mind required a lifestyle alteration, one which would balance out work and life, allowing me to hear, not listen and to see, not look.
A Mindful Approach
Understanding the importance of "getting away" and switching off in an "always on" society is key to a fresh and open mind, free from the pressures of the not so nine-to-five, allowing your environment to become your inspiration and build character, and ultimately being visible in your work. Taking note of the sun’s position on the walk into work or the trending hairstyles of people of your age as you pass them, are both ways of letting the mind wander. Simply being present in that moment.
Gently focusing or capturing instead of questioning the less significant things life has to offer helps distract the mind from dwelling on the past or what the future may or may not bring. Variety is found, though, in those insignificant things other people find significant. No two people will choose to gently focus on the same thing at the same time. This personal preference is an insight into the mind of an individual.
Hopefully, the above will make you think differently about idea generation and understand that we don’t have a mental file cabinet of ideas we can refer to when required. Simple lifestyle changes can help keep the mind operating at a steady rate, able to soak things as you see them and present them to the world imaginatively, in a different way seen by everyone else.
Distracting the mind until full attention is needed helps improve the work and life balance.
A worried mind is seen miles away, how anything original would stem from it is a mystery when that mind is occupied by a single problem. Soak in your surroundings, let it influence how you speak, express it through fashion.
Don't go looking for yourself, create yourself.
- You can plan for randomness.
- Inspiration can be found everywhere.
- Switching on and off aren’t the only options, be in the middle, be present.
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