Cultivating Creativity In 2012

January 9, 2012

The first few days of 2012 are a great time to reflect on the past and organize for the future. This year, rather than make a list of resolutions (because I’m terrible about following them), I’ve been attempting to change my perspective, one small experience at a time. As a designer one of the best ways for me to do this is take stock of my creativity.

Creativity, as you may already know, is a finite resource. It needs to be cultivated constantly in order to be able to tap into it when you really need it. For instance, here at Fast Horse, if we sit in the same spot two days in a row, we have to pay a fine to the fine jar. While this is mostly tongue in cheek (I think, anyway), I have a sneaking suspicion this is an exercise in creative thinking. After all, getting a new idea can sometimes be as simple as changing your physical viewpoint.

This is how I worked today.

Here is a list of some other strategies I’ve gathered through the years for propagating some valuable creativity:

Free Writing

In this article from the ever-informative Good.is, author Gracy Obuchowicz talks about her personal experience with free-writing:

“To me, there is no comfort that can compare to the privilege of being able to sit down for 30 minutes to write about whatever is going on inside. … It has shown me that I have infinite amounts of strength and humor if I look for it, and that I deserve all of [the] good things that happen to me once I make the decision to get out of my own way. So I just do it. I wake up and write until I feel clear.”

Although I haven’t tried a daily morning exercise in writing yet, I’ve always found comfort in being able to express everything I’m thinking in a tangible way. Once it’s on the page, often I can make connections and draw conclusions about my thoughts that wouldn’t have been possible without actually looking at them.

Consulting

Speaking of writing, I used to be a writing consultant while I was in school. My favorite type of consultation was a brainstorming session, which contained the greatest potential for a well-thought-out, intelligent paper. This is, in effect, building a strong foundation of ideas that you could return to (kind of like brand positioning!) when a long process inevitably goes flying in tangential directions. Similar to writing thoughts out, I find talking about them to someone else creates a sense of tangibility to ideas, and helps you organize them. In addition, having a sounding board for your thoughts means a different perspective on the same information: even if you miss something, your buddy might pick up on it and offer helpful advice.

 Coffee

I don’t really think I need to explain this one. I’ll just say that I definitely reach super-human levels of design ability when I’ve had the elusive, just-right amount of coffee. Here’s some (obviously academic and totally reputable) research to back me up.

It’s not always easy to tap into creativity. It’s an abstract concept, and sometimes the only way to get through a project when you have no inspiration and a looming deadline is to plow through and hope you come up with something good. Over time, I hope to make creativity something I can access immediately.

Do you have any strategies for sparking creativity?  What are you hoping to cultivate more of in 2012?