Thursday, March 7, 2013

Become More Creative

This book is filled with beautiful pictures from all over the world. Whenever I feel like I need to taste inspiration, this is where I go. Whenever my belief is suspended, I just look through these pages and see the reality of this world in ways I could never imagine. 

It's a vivid reminder to not let my personal understanding of the world place constraints on my creative power. Because really, what do I know?

National Geographic Image Collection

(This is part 3 of my creativity series, Take Charge of Your Creativity.)

For some, it can be hard to see an artist attack a canvas with no fear. How did they make it look so easy? How come it's so hard for me to be creative like that?

First I have to say, when you're watching the best at work you need to realize you're watching the best at work. They have a lot of experience and creative skill. Don't get sad when you try and recreate what they do only to fail. It takes time and practice to achieve these results. And this applies to creativity as well. 

Next, it's important to acknowledge that creativity comes from your mind and you can only become more creative by feeding your brain and letting it do what it's good at, making connections. Also understand that most of the creative horsepower is in your subconscious mind, so it's near impossible to think your way into being more creative.  In a way, you have to stop trying to be creative and let your subconscious do all the work, but how?

Come to some sort of arrangement with your subconscious mind. I call this feeding the mix monster, and here are some ideas to help you do this:
  • Read - Reading is a creative exercise in itself. Your subconscious is taking the information fed to it by the conscious and building an imaginary world making all sorts of fun connections. 
  • Try Something New - New experiences bring new ideas. Do I need to say more? 
  • Study - I can't tell you how many times I've had a creative revelation while doing a remedial art study to prepare me for the project. For example: I need to paint a robot, so I do sketches of existing robot parts and all sorts of ideas come to me. 
  • Dream Sketch - Keep a sketchpad next to your bed and when you wake up in the morning try to sketch something from your dreams. If you don't remember your dreams, this technique will help you do so. Otherwise just sketch the first thing that comes to mind. 
  • Seek criticism - Artists are like a rose bush, they turn out so much better when you prune the hell out of them. Don't just seek critique on your skills but also your ideas. Talk about them with friends and be willing to kick around your ideas to look at them in a new way. 
  • Activate your inner 4 year-old -  That's right, creativity is often killed by trying to be cool. Allow yourself some relief from your stuffy adult mind and entertain all ideas that come to you. A great way to practice this is with the scribble game. (draw a scribble on a piece of paper and try to turn that scribble into something recognizable. It's a great game to play with friends)
  • Just start already - This is the free-fall approach, and often works best for those who are comfortable in their artistic skills. Basically, if you have a blank canvass, then just start painting strokes. This gives your visual associations something to work with, and before you know it, ideas start to emerge. 
Like doing anything, the more you practice this stuff the better you will get. Thinking too hard will drive you into a state of creative block, which happens because our conscious mind gets stuck on a problem that can only be solved by our subconscious mind. Only after we clear our heads and distract our conscious mind will we ever have a chance of solving our creative problems.

But I will cover that more in detail next week when I discuss How to Overcome Creative Block.

If you have a strategy on how you exercise your creativity, then help your fellow readers and share in the comments below. Everyone will benefit from your ideas no matter how strange or small.

WIP of what I'm currently working on.

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