Generating ideas: or where to start your creative journey.
How to come up with ideas: or how you can make stuff if you don’t know where to start.
First of all, the absolutely most important thing to know about creating is that it happens when you DO things.
You can read a thousand books on creativity, how to’s, go to presentations, register for master classes, watch what other people are creating, but you need to do things.
Look at one thing you want to work better, or to be more pleasurable, or take less time. Then try to come up with ways to make it more difficult!
By making things more difficult, you might stumble on some really important features, shortcuts, or find ways to refine what you are trying to achieve.
Tips for making stuff
Here are a couple of my favorite time-honored tips for making stuff:
When you are writing, write. Don’t start editing, erasing, or amending things until you either believe you have captured everything, or you have a looming deadline locking eyes with you and not blinking.
Chunk it out. A big project can be overwhelming. By breaking it down into discrete actions, you will be more likely to persevere and catch a second or fortieth wind to keep it going.
Breaking it up
One of my favorite hacks is to do something physical in between. If not physical, then something stupid, if not stupid, then something useful. Hurling little kindnesses out into the world also primes my work.
- Physical, for me, can be a swim, walk, bike ride, or a hefty episode of dancing to live music.
- Stupid, IMHO, is ironing something not needed immediately, refolding clothes, unraveling and rewinding spools of thread and bobbins.
- Something useful is cleaning up files, updating workflows, cooking a meal.
- Kindnesses—checking in with people who might be hurt, lonely, or scared—a call, a letter, an email, visit, or a meal.
Clutter and Me
Clutter is your friend. No. I take that back. Clutter is my friend, but we don’t always get along. Until you find yourself being walled in (limited) by it. Sometimes cleanliness IS next to Godliness, but here is one of the wisest sayings ever shared with me: “An overly clean (house/office/workspace) is the sign of a wasted life.”
The same goes for cooking, glueing, cutting, painting, drafting, or sewing. There will likely be a beginning inspo moment (which is kinda like falling in love), followed by the hum of “feel like doin’ it!,” but THEN comes the “Oh sh*t, I have a million other things I need to do right now, so I am going to a) put this away; b) leave it in the middle of the work space; c) push it over to the side for a few minutes.” Work through that. You know you. You know how.
Here is an example of a small, side project currently simmering away:
We use ‘Lip Kits’ for Lip Print Analysis. The Kits have the tools in them, or with them to use for the activation. From the moment we started doing them, there has been one iteration after the other of what they look like, what they do, what they don’t do, and even what they absolutely cannot be or do!
Where I started
I started out with function. Here are all of these odd bits and pieces we use for clients—what do they need? What don’t they need? What do they want? What don’t they want?
Looking at what they want begs the question of why they want it. Is it practical, helpful, beautiful, necessary, fun, or inspiring? What are the time/dollar costs involved? What are the caveats? Is it heavy, delicate, difficult to transport, does it require extra labor? What kind of environments does it fit?
A Lip Kit needs to be a focal point and it needs to have a sensory value. Is that value visual, audial, kinesthetic, fragrant, aromatic, or tastable? How easy or difficult is it for guests or talent to manipulate? What does it project? Is it easy to keep in good repair? What about transporting it? What kind of packaging or protection does it require? How much space? What is the weight? What potential visual themes or types of events does it fit?
That leads to the next part, which is where guests put the trash. That has led to many, many different solutions, but the bottom line is, does the receptacle serve its purpose? That begs the question of whether it potentially is in the way at the event. How can we reduce its footprint? What can we do to keep it clean? How much does it weigh? How do we securely pack it for load in and load out?
All of these questions and so many more, lead to the creation of ideas, then to a winnowing, watering, pruning, and framing. Gently try them out.
Don’t do what I did. Don’t invite friends over for a dinner using recipes and ingredients you have never worked with before!
Creativity = Muscles
Creativity is a muscle. The more you use it, the more jacked you get. You will never be bored. You can play the most astonishing and rewarding games in life. And guess what? You always win.
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