How to be creative
Envato Author, MannyMusic shares his tips for clearing your mind, executing on ideas and being creative.
Where does inspiration come from?
Many artists and philosophers have wondered about this wonderful and mysterious thing.
Some think ideas just come from individuals, while others think they come from religion or philosophy.
Brian Eno, for example, once invented the word “scenius” (scene and genius) to describe how ideas are born by the interaction of several motivated individuals, therefore the birth of artistic trends.
A little melody, patterns of colors and shapes, sequences of images; they can come to us anywhere at anytime according to your own artistic and sensory attitude and stimulation.
The color of notes, the sound of shapes, the smell of colors
Not one of us perceives things the exact same way as another.
There are three main types of perception: Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic.
We tend to have one of these mostly developed, but the two others not as much. And, that can actually be helpful for developing new ideas.
Have you ever tried to perceive a color as a sound or vice-versa? Or just how it would feel to touch or smell them?
In the end it is just a matter of frequencies and neural stimulation, and how the brain translates them for us.
So one interesting thing that could be done is just shifting the perception to other channels just to check how it feels and affects the overall mood of what you’re working at.
You will be amazed by the taste of your song, or the smell of your videos and the symphony of your drawing!
Ideas and inspiration are great, but sometimes as quick as they come, they go.
If we are in our homes or workspaces while ideas come to us, we usually have all the tools we need to capture them. But what if we’re in a restaurant, a park or walking down a street?
Most of the time a smartphone is a great tool to get the job done. These days most people have one and there a tons of apps we can use to capture ideas.
I personally sing on the fly whenever a melody comes into my mind and make some notes about it.
If you’re not a musician you can just record yourself or type it down describing the idea in as much detail as you can.
Sometimes you’re going to need make more of a “visual” note, so a good old pen and sketchbook will help you with that, or perhaps in this day in age you prefer a tablet and a stylus.
The beginning of creation
The most important thing – in my experience – is to start with a global picture of what the final project will look or sound like.
I usually put down my ideas and sketch the whole thing from start to finish without getting too stuck on details that will lead me away from the target.
I find myself comfortable in taking one strong idea and building around it, making big blocks of elements and trying to move them around. Notes, shapes and images don’t really matter as they’re just the alchemy between those elements that actually make things work.
Then through the refining process all of the details and nuances will come into focus and give the project that extra value and touch.
Having more ideas along the way
While working on a project you may come up with new ideas to add, and sometimes they can be stronger than the original one.
This is a great thing, but it can also distract you from the original target as it requires – in many cases – a radical reworking of the whole project.
If this happens I always suggest asking yourself if it’s really worth it to – more or less – start from scratch, especially if you’re on a schedule.
Most of the time I find it useful to just add a few new elements and some embellishment, and save the new ideas for another project where they can be fully developed with a clear mind.
“Hey this is great! No wait, it’s horrible.”
Sometimes when we have a cool idea and start a project with lots of enthusiasm, we look back and think “that’s not exactly what I had in mind”.
This happens mostly due to the discrepancy between expectations and the judgement of your work up until that particular moment.
Sometimes it’s not really that bad, you may have just fallen off track, which in itself can be good as well.
Try to focus on what you really want your project to be and tweak it to see if you’re able to put it on the track you’re wanting. Otherwise you should re-evaluate your expectations to get the best out of them. Be reasonable. Don’t go crazy trying to create a masterpiece and consider it another “experience”. Next time will be better!
After a great start there are often going to be times when you get stuck and don’t know how to go on. This is totally normal.
There’s never a shortage of ideas, we just judge the following ones at a different level. But is that always the case?
This again has to do with expectations and sometimes is really a case of changing or lowering them to make your life easier. You will be amazed how good the result may be regardless.
One important thing is not to get nervous, and if indeed you do, to take a break and clear your mind as overthinking will not lead you far, and will sometimes make things worse.
A small walk, listening to music, having a cup of coffee or some other activity that can clear your mind is imperative. Refresh your mind, and then start again with a different mindset and let the magic happen.
Another basic moment of creation is to know when to stop and leave things as they are.
This amplified the importance of letting your work rest for a little while, then going back to it with a clear mind. If it doesn’t meet 100% of your expectations, it doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to love it.
We all perceive things differently, and it may be there are good things in there that you just aren’t conscious enough to see while you’re working on it. You run the risk of this when you’re too close to your work.
Letting it rest and looking at it again with fresh eyes, as well as getting feedback from third parties can definitely help you solve this problem.
Whatever your approach, the most important thing, in my opinion, when developing ideas, is that you have a workflow that fits with your personality. If your artistic vision is changing all the time, so should your workflow.
Being a creative person is itself a challenge, and your ideas and your vision of things have to be in “sync” to get the best out of them.
Don’t be scared of changes and be ready to leave your creative comfort zone.