"I’m not creative enough to…"
Ever heard someone say that?
I have. Hundreds if not thousands of times.
Sadly, it’s really just a lie they’ve been telling themselves for so long, they believe it to be the truth. So they stop trying. They stop imagining.
They give up and stop creating.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Many times, clients marvel over the creativity it took for me to come up with an artistic design or creative idea for them. Sometimes they stare at it with a grin that says, "I love the way this looks." And once in a while they chuckle, shake their head, and say something like, "You’re so good at this! I could never come up with an idea like that."
But the truth is, I’m nothing special.
I’m not some mystic that goes into a trance and has visions of what the design should look like, or what the client’s business name or tagline should be.
I’ve just trained myself to be a really good problem solver.
Creativity is not a gift; it’s a skill
The truth is, creativity isn’t a gift. It’s a skill anyone can learn if they try.
Most people just don’t try.
Sure there are some gifted individuals out there who have a weird knack for creativity. But there also are "child prodigies" in many different topics and skills.
You don’t hear people saying math is a gift. You hear them talking about the gifted genius they just met who can solve calculus equations in her head in mere seconds.
In other words, the person is gifted. The skill itself is not a gift, but a discipline.
And even in cases of child prodigies, the raw talent isn’t enough. The skill needs to be practiced, tuned, and honed before they are truly masters of their craft.
In my own case, the reason I can visualize designs so easily, and seem to pull ideas "out of thin air" is because I’ve spent years training myself to be able to do that. As a child I was always interested in creative pursuits, but I didn’t get good at it until I learned, practiced, and honed my skills.
Creativity, like math, can be learned.
Creativity is problem solving
In its simplest sense, creativity is just problem solving.
In design, you’re trying to solve a space and arrangement problem. How are you going to fill that empty space, and with what, to make it an attractive design?
In writing, you’re trying to solve a communication problem. Which words will you use to convey your idea to your reader?
In branding, you’re trying to solve an engagement problem. How are you going to present your brand to your audience in a way that they will connect with it, and want what you offer?
And those are just a few examples.
The trick is to stop looking at creativity as "magic," and start looking at it as a formula.
Focus on the pieces, not the void, to solve the puzzle
The reason many people struggle with creativity is because they’re too busy staring at a blank page or other void, and just stress out. They let themselves get overwhelmed with, "Oh my gosh, what am I going to put here?"
Instead, look at it like a puzzle and focus on one piece at a time.
The trick is to stop looking at creativity as "magic,"
and start looking at it as a formula.
The way you turn creativity into a formula, is to break it down to its individual parts, much like a complex math equation.
For example, if you’re designing an eBook, don’t look at the blank page and worry out about what to fill it with. You’ll just overwhelm yourself. Instead, focus on solving the small pieces one at a time:
- What colors will you use?
- What fonts will work best?
- What photos do you need?
- How much text is there?
- Where will you position each element in the available space?
- And so on, and so forth, etc, etc.
Tackle each of these smaller creative problems one at a time, and soon the larger picture will begin to present itself, just like a jigsaw puzzle. And once you assemble those pieces together, you’ll have the eBook design figured out.
Again, this is just one example. The trick is to apply this formula method by breaking the creative project down into its smaller, individual problems. Solve them first, and then assemble them into the larger project you’re trying to create.
The bottom line
The trick to being more creative is to stop worrying about the big, scary void, and figure out the small, individual details first. When you approach creativity in this formula-like manner, it’s a lot easier to crank out creative ideas.
Do you think creativity is a gift or a skill? What’s your biggest struggle / frustration with creativity and coming up with ideas? Share your thoughts in the comments below…