Years ago I was asked to give a presentation on ‘Creativity in Advertisingâ€™ to a class of Communication & Media Studies students.
Oh! The illicit thrill of rebelliously plotting to tell them some of my secrets. Secrets which were dangerously diametrically-opposed to what other experts were telling them.
I knew these secrets had the power to save these students a lot of future stress and creative angst so I figured it was worth the possibility of being laughed out of the lecture theatre.
To predispose them to listen, lessen the imminent shock and stretch their belief about what is possible, I gave them all chocolate bars. Yeah, that’s right – bribery.
Here are 3 of my dangerous, yet proven-effective, secrets to effortless creativity:
1. You need to take your ego out of the project at the get-go. Itâ€™s not about YOU for now. Itâ€™s about creating something. You can step into the limelight after youâ€™ve created the thing. This letting-go-of-ego liberates you and quiets the critical voice in your head that stifles creative thought. It’s a technique that becomes easier over time as you develop confidence in both your abilities and the next two techniques.
2. You are more creative when you practise no effort at all. Deepak Chopra expresses this beautifully in a life-context when he talks about The Law of Least Effort. (Iâ€™m not talking here about the discipline you need to manifest things in the world. Iâ€™ll talk about that in another post.)
Do NOT, no matter what anyone tells you, think you have to spend hours sweating and thinking and rehashing a project, task or brief. The time you spend on a job – contrary to what your client, boss or ego might think – has absolutely no bearing on the value of the idea you come up with. They donâ€™t relate at all! It is not difficult to have an idea, and itâ€™s just as easy to have a brilliant idea as a lame one. It takes your mind less than 1 second to have an idea. An idea or creation is not better because you spent from 9am until 9am the next day thinking about it, in fact it will likely be awful.
Read the creative brief, manifesto, task at hand, project, whatever it is youâ€™re looking to create. Absorb it fully, note down the first ideas and thoughts that come into your head. Stop thinking about it. Go do something else or at least think about something else. Your subconscious mind is far more powerful at working things out that your conscious mind, so let your subconscious do all the work for you. Novelists rely heavily upon their subconscious to keep track of the intricacies of complex narrative, character traits, plot development, geography, dynamics. So leave the project for a couple of days or hours, as time allows, and then re-read your brief or task and let your subconscious ideas and thoughts come through. Then let your conscious mind kick-in to edit, add, subtract, refine.
3. This is the biggie. Please suspend your judgment for now and just try this next time you are seriously stuck having slammed into a brick wall and are now glued to it with your nose getting scratched on the brickwork. When you get stuck, when you are completely overwhelmed, lost or panicked or you just had some very bad news and yet still have to come up with something, ask the angels/god/fairies/your spirit guide/whatever external manifestation of power you cherish, to help you.
Stop laughing you over there! Iâ€™m serious.
I once had to write 3 huge business-to-business brochures for IBM about some computers that cost about million dollars each. This project was killer because I didnâ€™t know if what I was writing made any sense at all â€“ it was in a different language, since I had no training in computer science, I couldnâ€™t understand the technical information I was â€˜translatingâ€™. I was so lost I burst into tears at my computer! In complete desperation I asked â€œthe angelsâ€ (no, I donâ€™t now who they are exactly either) to help me.
Iâ€™m here to tell you this worked. I felt a shift come over me, some kind of intangible support, i switched off my brain, let my fingers press whatever characters they wanted on the keyboard and pretty much channeled all three brochures. The client loved my copy. Would I tell IBM that “the angels” wrote it for them? Em, HELL NO!
You donâ€™t want to be pulling this big bunny out the hat too much. Itâ€™s where you go when you are really desperate – white-knuckled, sweat drops on brow, crisis.
I remembered these 3 secrets because I used the 3rd one last night.
I became completely bloody-minded with ridged determination that I would put a favicon in the browser bar of my website URL. This involved delving into FTP stuff on my host server and while I fancy myself as a creative geek gal who likes dabbling in CSS â€“ this was w-a-y beyond my level of experience.
So after four attempts at shoving html cluelessly in any old place like someone fumbling to lose their virginity, I sent a Tweet out saying:
Dear Fairy Godmother of Favicons, please come and help me now. I have tried and tried and tried and still no favicon on my website. Thanks!
And not long after, this Tweet:
Thank you Fairy Godmother of Favicons, your wand was swift and I am very grateful. Take care.
Who knew Twitter was our communication channel to higher powers? Check it out â€“ my favicon is up there in your browser window, channeled by me from some other entity and because I was kinda ‘listening’ and acting intuitively, I can’t remember how I managed that. Nice favicon, huh?
Yep, there yâ€™go â€“ my ego just kicked back in.
The losing the ego is an important one; it’s common to see people pushing and pursuing their favourite idea at the cost of the idea that works best and fits the purpose. Ideas need first to be released, and if one is patient, you will see some take on more water and sink, leaving those that float behind.
06/05/2010 — 5:18 pm
Oh what a beautiful statement from the man with the mind-expanding website! Thank you Nick.
Also, i think it is far harder to lose your ego when you are young and wanting to really make your mark in the world. It is definitely easier to trust in the letting go when you have some good history for your ego to fall back on.
15/05/2010 — 10:36 pm