“The most creative people have this childlike facility to play.” — John Cleese
Look, the only way to improve is by going through the creative process.
This means a lot of hard work and moments of pure frustration. It may even include some blood, sweat and tears. If done properly.
There’s no two ways about it. We can talk about the theory behind it all but what it comes down to is the amount of intestinal fortitude you have to put yourself through it. Also, daring to perform the autopsy of what worked and what didn’t after the fact.
Creativity in essence is the process of solving problems in ways that are unique (different from what we’ve experienced before) and useful (something we can actually use or that serves a purpose).
Art is the craft itself. Whether it’s singing, dancing, programming, business, writing, etc.
I’d recommend the following.
1) Find what it is you want to do.
2) Practice doing it for 20 hours.
3) Create something and show it to people
4) Look at the response and see what needs improving.
5) Repeat steps 2–4.
Let me give you an example.
1) I want to play the guitar, and play a particular song. Find out what the chords are and how to strum. Use YouTube, tabs, etc for this. No need to go into theory, how the guitar is made up, what the notes are etc because we need practical experience first.
2) Practice it for 20 hours.
3) Play it in front of people.
4) How did they react? Does it sound close to the original? Are you matching the tempo? And so on. Take that information to know what you want to improve. Try and make it as concrete as possible so that you spend the next 20 hours purposefully.
5) Repeat steps 2–4.
The same principles apply to whatever you’re doing. The only thing to remember is to constantly ask yourself what it is you need to know and get better at.
Fair warning. You also need to understand yourself. We’ve all had different experiences and as a result we find certain things easier and others harder. Don’t compare your step 1 to someone else’s step 10. They might’ve had a head start in some regards.
You can look at them to understand what it is you want to improve, but also understand that you’re you. You have something different to bring to the table. You don’t need to live up to their standard. Set your own and focus on your goals.
Now, after a while the improvements will get less and less noticable. This is because our journey from novice to master is by nature an asymptote.
So, you’re starting to master your art but you feel like your work isn’t “creative” enough?
Alright. So it might be that when you’re creating something you feel like it’s either not unique or not useful enough. It might be really useful but look like something else or it’s really different but people don’t understand it.
If it’s useful but not unique you’ve probably not spent enough time on it or you haven’t connected enough different ideas to it.
If it’s unique but not useful you’ve probably not been critical enough. Try asking how relevant the answer is to your original question.
The trick here is to know when to do what.
When we’re generating ideas the “critic” is not constructive. So stay in the creative mindset.
When we’re sorting out what ideas are relevant the “creative” might be a distraction.
I’ll post a video at the bottom with John Cleese who talks about it in terms of being “open” and “closed”.
One thing I urge you to do however is to put more emphasis on your strengths. Just getting better at your weaknesses is going to take a lot of time. Get really good at a couple of things and surround yourself with people who can cover for your weaknesses.
We only get so much time on earth so it’s better to start putting your stuff out to the world to see as soon as possible. The feedback will help you grow a lot faster than thinking about it will.
Actions trump ideas.
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Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!