Let’s say, hypothetically, you’re writing your first article for a new outlet and you’re a little unsure where to start. And let’s also say, hypothetically, you believe yourself to be a creative person — but when you sit down to write said article, you draw an absolute blank.
And finally, let’s say, keeping in mind that this is all hypothetical, that the assumed pressure of being creative in a professional setting, complete with constraints and deadlines, is something of which you are acutely aware. Okay, now that we have this hypothetical situation in mind, let’s talk about how you might deal with such pressures associated with being a professional creative.
In his CreativeLive course Being Creative Under Pressure, Todd Henry, founder of Accidental Creative, a company that “helps creative people and teams generate brilliant ideas,” covers many aspects of being creative on-demand while working. Todd outlines five distinct factors that help boost your creativity and generate a rhythm in order to maintain and foster a more dynamic and active creative process.
1. Focus: Define your work
– Understand the problem
– Understand the context surrounding the problem
Bringing the challenge into focus allows people to understand exactly what they are trying to do. When this hypothetical author sat down to write his article, he had to establish exactly what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it before he could begin.
2. Relationships: Utilize others and their knowledge
– Innovation comes from the collective points of views and toolsets
– Actively seek out others for help
Todd talks about the idea of “circles” and “head-to-head meetings,” or meetings with people you respect and can learn from, people who, in turn, respect and learn from you. If you could see the hypothetical first draft of this article, you would understand why relationships are so important. And no, you may not see it.
3. Energy: Know where you’re using it
– Give the most energy to the right projects
– Must balance energy between professional and personal lives
Making sure you aren’t overextending yourself is so important. Todd recommends to “practice pruning”, which means cutting back the vine that is your body of work and growing the most efficient and best fruits.
4. Stimuli: Expose yourself to new ideas and inspiration
– Make time to study other areas
– Be curious and take good notes on what you learn
Often, we must look elsewhere to keep our creative senses engaged. Todd says that the next great idea in your industry probably won’t come from within your industry.
5. Hours: Schedule your time to be efficient
– Schedule time to think about and reflect on your work
– Take time to be creative for you
Creativity is at the heart of all of this, so take the time to absorb what you are working on and plan ahead. Todd stresses the importance of being creative for the sake of being creative — and maintaining those internal processes. Schedule your time so it is both efficient and fun.
All of these rhythms will help keep your creativity F.R.E.S.H. (See what he did there?) and help you be as creatively potent as possible — at a moment’s notice.