How To Be More Creative
Is being creative something that can be taught? That’s a question without a simple yes or no answer. The more I experience in life and grow as an artist and writer the more I try and put into concrete terms what conditions are necessary for the best moments of clarity and inspiration. Creativity may not be able to be taught directly, but what I am getting better at is frequently aligning the circumstances of life which foster the greatest chances for true creative expression.
Pushing yourself for greater productivity in your art or your profession is great and you shouldn’t stop that – but perhaps equally important is putting your life on a path of being a true creative to achieve absolutely unique results. There isn’t nearly as much value in doing things slightly different than have already been done versus doing things which are truly unique to you. I’d like to share a few philosophies on life I have that may help you in producing the most creative results.
Ruthlessly limit your selection of tools to only the most vital
I have found time and time again that the more limited your set of tools is, the more creative the output will be. Having a limited set of vital tools forces creativity and really challenges you to use what you have to produce the desired results. As a byproduct, you’ll get incredibly good with that small set of tools and refine your use of them to a point you can literally do anything you like with them. You’ll be far sharper than someone who merely dabbles with a larger set of tools.
Don’t listen to feedback, keep following your own path
If you are pursuing art for the sake of art, you shouldn’t listen to feedback from others. The problem with asking for feedback is invariably the feedback will be given infused with that person’s preconceived notions of what art should be. And, there is no wrong answer with art, not if you are doing it for yourself. Others will unconsciously push your art in a direction that they see as best. This is done with good intentions, however it is wrong because it actually hurts your internal creativity. Now this is different than sharing your work – by all means share, but I don’t think listening to feedback is a good decision if you want to truly find your own path of creative self-expression. For a long time, I actively asked and listened to feedback on my own art, but now when I share I neither ask nor listen for feedback and I am producing art that I personally enjoy even more. It has really brought the heart back into it for me. I’m also not sharing most of it with the world right now, but I will one day.
Having a routine is actually not a bad thing
A lot of people talk about the negativity of having a routine for creativity. I would argue just the opposite – having a routine forces creativity. Routines are positive if they reinforce a healthy, creative consciousness and negative if they destroy that. While breaking your routine once in awhile to force new ways of thinking is good, what if growing/learning/experiencing new things was built into your routine as a natural. It might not be such a bad thing. The people who get stuck in a monotonous existence and speak negatively about routine have simply not developed a routine that puts them on a path of internal growth.
Don’t try and be right
Some of my best days producing creative material is when I stopped caring if I would produce something which was incorrect. Don’t worry about being right or wrong – just go for it. Your natural output uninhibited by concern for creating something correct or incorrect will always produce creative results. It is unfortunate that institutional education prides itself on being one of those two things. This yes or no programming occurs at a massive detriment to the creativity of modern society. There are limitless paths to achieve creative success. You have to free yourself of this small minded, institutionalized thinking if you want to truly produce something creative.
Imperfection is beautiful
My favorite art is art that is imperfect. Imperfection is human, and sometimes the most creative artists leave mistakes unfixed on purpose. Nature itself is beautifully imperfect. Many try to be so perfect that they scrub away what made their work special in the first place. I have seen this happen to some artists over the years – they become too conscious of their productions. In a world saturated by overproduced, unnaturally perfect, and clean – the unpolished is the most creative and in many cases most inspirational.
If you want to be truly creative, you absolutely must ignore trends. Block them out – pay zero attention to them. Trends are the polar opposite of creativity. In many forms of art (especially music) the masses of artists are following whatever the hot trends set forth are. Then there is the other, smaller group of artists that are pursuing their own path and not really paying attention to external trends in their form of art of choice. There is certainly more money, fame and instant notoriety for following trends, but most of what is popular is hardly creative. If you want to make something truly unique trends are irrelevant. Looking inside yourself is where you will discover a greater wealth of creativity than available in any hot trend.
Spend a lot of time alone
Personally I love my alone time. When not working, I spend a majority of my time reading, writing music and words, watching things like TED presentations, studying sociology and philosophy, reading blogs, experiencing non-popular genres of music/forms art, and essentially pursuing a path of intellectual curiosity. There’s a rare glimpse into my life for you (I don’t do that often here) – but I’m trying to prove a point. It’s not that I am anti-social, I just find my creativity really starts to open up when I am removed from others and able to have quiet focus for my words or music. It is then and only then I am able to let go and achieve results that I’m happy with.
Don’t watch TV, don’t listen to the radio, remove the vapid elements of popular culture from your life
These things aren’t bad for you in moderation – but I do not believe truly creative individuals spend more than a fleeting amount of time with them. They are great at normalizing your thoughts with the rest of society, and do not foster true internal creativity. Realize everything that you experience, every piece of content you consume plays a role in shaping your personality, even if at a subconscious level. It is all influence one way or another. You are in many ways a product of your experiences and stimulus. In one sentence, your creative output can be thought of simply as a personal interpretation of external stimulus. The best part about this is you get to control the input.
Don’t try and fit into a genre
Actively trying to fit your art or work into a genre is severly limiting and a detriment to its quality, if creativity is desired. Don’t try and write for a genre, don’t try to follow trends within a genre, in fact don’t even consider genre when working. Labeling it in a genre is a necessary evil for people to be able to find your work, and you will probably have to do this – but it shouldn’t be something that crosses your mind when trying to work. Genres, styles and methods don’t matter for creativity and originality.
Ignore the past
Want to be really creative or original? Ignore or forget the past, ignore what the world has created up until this point. Sometimes considering the past will make you place a sort of unconscious time stamp on a style. That’s the antithesis of creativity and originality. Create things from within yourself that don’t draw inspiration from what has come previously or even consider it and you’ll be on a path to creative output.
In a world over-saturated with ideas and content, learning how to be more creative is vital for producing absolutely unique results. Spending time to carefully craft a life that inspires your best, most creative output leads to greater levels of inspiration and success in everything you do. It also leads to greater levels of happiness and internal motivation. The more I experience, the clearer I see creativity is not like a lightning strike, but more like something which manifests itself inside those who learn to foster it and create the right conditions for it to prosper.
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