You might think being creative on demand is “hard”. Here’s what I’ve learned on the job.
I’m sad that society heavily sells this idea that creativity is “too hard” That we are constantly being indoctrinated into it. Adults spout tropes about the difficulty of creativity, sounding like children talking about monsters under their bed. No evidence of a monster, just fear. (See also: Face the Fear of Failure)
Hard is one of my least favorite words. Most of the time considering difficulty is impractical. When you catch yourself doing it, take it as a sign to practice. Pondering how easy or difficult a task manifests as a common procrastination habit. We place mental blocks in front of our own goals to protect us from imagined outcomes.
Anyone who got to the point where they could read this has already tackled countless difficult tasks.
Fairly early in my career, a more experienced designer told me starting with a blank page is the hardest part of the job.
So I’ve found to make it easy, at the beginning of a project I focus on the most practical parts of it. Break apart the project. Open a document. Get the size right. Put something on the page without judgment.
If it’s a particularly creatively challenge project, I name the file “Project Name Ideas”. Then it’s a super judgment-free space.
If you know any text or ideas for text, put it on the page. If it’s even more intimidating, scribble some messy thoughts on paper.
Sometimes just drawing boxes or grabbing a photo or texture works. Or make a list of steps.
Creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Look at inspiration and try using very specific parts of what you like in your own idea. Draw from a few inspirations and try getting them to mesh together
Try out the bad ideas too. Afraid of becoming unoriginal? Copy something and then try to fix it until it’s unique. Make something hideous and see if you can fix that too. Even at your worst, you’ll have some usable thoughts.
The important part I’ve found is to show your work. If someone could see you, could they describe an action? Thinking is not an action in itself.
Think through actions and through making.
Podcasts I listen to: Feeling Good – Psychiatrist and Author David Burns discusses mood improvement tips and exercises. Happier with Gretchen Rubin – Gretchen (author of The Happiness Project and The Four Tendencies) and her sister Elizabeth Craft (TV writer) discuss habits Happier in Hollywood – Liz Craft and Sarah Fain discuss the struggles as TV writers in the male-dominated entertainment industry. Awesome Etiquette – The great-grandchildren of etiquette author Emily Post discuss modern manners in the digital age based on the tenants of consideration, respect, and honest. Getting Things Done – Productivity tips from author and consultant David Allen. ... Read more
Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.