Creativity Is Like A Flame - It Needs Air

When your job, your hobby, your passion depends on you being creative, you have it hard and you probably know it. The thing about creativity is that it's fragile, random and most of the time you cannot plan it - that is the reason why bands need years to write an album, painters need months for one picture or writers need everything between weeks to decades to write a book (I'm looking at you George R.R. Martin). 

As a marketer first, I breathe on creativity and content. My hobbies are also creativity focused, be it music or writing or taking pictures. So, as you could imagine, being original and creative 100% of the time is impossible and I envy people who are for example professional writers who put out original content everyday. 

What I wanted to get into for the weekend is the process of how to get your fire burning and keep it lit so to speak. This is also a perfect opportunity to share your experience with others, everyone might have another method - so feel free to post a comment.

So, here are some tips on how I help creativity to come out and play:

1) I drink coffee

I've been thinking recently about publishing a post called "For The Love Of Coffee". The truth is there is so much that coffee did for me over the last two decades, I can't describe it. The point though is, coffee does not only help me to wake up, it helps me to become agitated. The importance about me being agitated is easy, when you can't sit still, you need to do something. And by doing something the chance of doing something creative is immensely more present compared to doing nothing or sitting still, right? So even on a rainy day when I don't want to move, I get up, "schlepp" myself to the next coffee store and drink some. This will most certainly get the engine started.

2) I literally put an instrument in my hand

To be creative, you have to have the right tools. It may be a keyboard, a guitar or a camera, but most of this stuff is not yet(!) implemented in our bodies. That means, taking something into your hand automatically leads to interaction. Playing the guitar for 5 minutes might just get the neurons firing that will help me to write that article. This has a lot to do with the first step being the hardest. Once you've taken one step, your body ultimately wants to move on. We are programmed to be inert. Use it to your advantage.

3) I start doing multiple things at once

This is one of those cheap tricks that I use to fool myself. It works best with mundane tasks like cleaning the apartment. When you start 3-5 different things that you can skip to at any given moment, that helps me at least to get going. And it also improves the odds of actually finishing one of those tasks compared to starting just one and then just stopping it and getting back on the couch. This is why I sometimes have a guitar on my lap while I play piano, just to give me the opportunity to change anytime and follow the creative flow. That's also why I like working on three different PowerPoints at a time.

4) I call someone 

Especially when you are looking at a complex problem or want to explain a multi-dimensional view, talking to someone gives you the edge by getting out of your own head and into a new perspective. I've done this on several occasions such as writing a song or writing a thesis for university. Calling your best friend or partner is a wonderful opportunity to pick their brains and get some creative ideas when you yourself do not feel like it.

5) I watch videos on Youtube

I'am so grateful that we have the internet and that a platform like Youtube exists. I love learning with videos and I also love copying things in videos and I benefited greatly from it while learning to play the piano. It was never easier to open a video on your laptop, sit and repeat what you see on screen. Learning something new gives you the power to do something new in a known context. Meaning you can learn a new chord on the guitar and implement it in your song. You could learn about a new editing technique and implement it in your iMovie project for example. Just seeing these new possbilities help me to come up with some original thoughts and ideas.

6) Last but not least - give yourself a break

You probably know and experienced it yourself, the famous "shower thoughts". When you least expect it, creativity will hit you right in the face. And thank god, it was never easier to capture your creativity given the power of your most beloved handheld devices. It happened to me, that I had a great idea for a melody when I was waiting on a train - I looked around, nobody was near me and I sang it into my phone. Captured for eternity. Uploading it to a cloud service and put it on your desktop for advanced editing, no problem anymore. 

What I want to say is, that sometimes you just got to relax and take a step back. That is also a valid solution. 

So what are your thoughts on creativity, how do you work with a tabula rasa?

Let me know in the comments below and enjoy your weekend!

Thanks for reading!

Sebastian