As a Marketing & Communications specialist, I wear many hats…writer, project manager, psychologist. The scariest, most gratifying part of my job is when I’m asked for my creative input. I love that my job requires me be inventive, but I’ll admit that when I start working on a new project, I have a moment of panic. What if I fail to be creative?
It got me thinking, where does creativity come from? Is there a cesspool of gooey creativity batter roiling inside us, just waiting to be tapped? Or does an inspired thought flutter in like an elusive butterfly requiring the perfect blend of light, heat, mindset, caffeine, and comfortable pants, to ensnare this colorful and cagey thing? Can we somehow harness visionary ideas and squirrel them away in our brains to access whenever needed?
The problem is, creativity-on-demand is often situation-specific, so even if we have the ability to store these ideas, mapping them to the need at hand may prove futile. Perhaps we’ve stored many wonderful ideas, but they’re all wrong for this particular engagement.
The other problem with creativity-on-demand is the on-demand part. Creativity takes time. How does one manage productivity vs creativity? According to a study conducted by Adobe…
88% of respondents said there’s an increasing pressure at work to be productive rather than creative.1
So in a job that requires both productivity and creativity, how does one balance that? What percentage of time should one allow for creativity on an assignment? 10%? 50%? 90%? It is a tightrope that creative workers must teeter.
There are few things I do to get myself in a creative space. I walk…it does wonders to unblock the imagination. I read quotes by famous and not-so-famous people. I do an image search on Google for a concept I’m working on and that takes me down interesting and connected paths – one of those paths is bound to tickle my interest and imagination. The next thing to do on my list is to read The Accidental Creative, How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, by Todd Henry. He’s got some fun and provocative ideas on this topic.
Other things that would be fun to fuel that creativity-on-demand: Join an improv group; take a painting class (preferably the kind that allows wine consumption); work in a new environment like an urban library far outside the comfort zone or an eclectic coffee shop. Most importantly, be intentional about being creative. The more we exercise that part of our grey matter, the more open we become.
1 Study based on surveys of 5,000 adults, 1,000 per country in US, UK, Germany, France and Japan, Adobe State of Create Study