Before answering what my process looks like, I’ll just answer a couple of other questions and explain my view of things.
A) What’s the difference between creativity and art?
First of all, it’s easy for people to get creativity and art confused. The words have become so intertwined that it’s difficult to see where one ends and the other begins. So, I just want to make clear how I choose to define it.
Art is the finished product/result.
Creativity is the process through which we arrive at the product/result.
B) How do we measure how “creative” something is?
We have two main attributes that play a role, those are whether the result is:
- Useful. Does it serve a purpose?
- Unique. Is it different from what I’ve experienced before?
Now, you can create something that’s useful and solves the “problem”, but isn’t very unique. This usually happens when we take one of the first answers/solutions that pops into our heads.
You can also create something very unique and different that doesn’t have the least bit of value because it doesn’t serve any purpose.
The magic happens when it’s both useful and unique enough to warrant our attention.
It’s very subjective how creative we deem something to be. It’s based on our prior experiences and needs.
Sometimes people use the word “creative” as a substitute for words like unique or different, and just like with art the lines sometimes get blurred. That’s why it’s important that we define more clearly what we mean by the words we use.
With that out of the way, here’s what my process usually looks like.
Since I’m mainly a writer the specifics are going to look a little different than what it was when I was a songwriter/producer. But if you look at the underlying principles, you’ll be able to see how it can be applied to other fields as well.
These can come up at any place and any time. That’s why I usually carry around a little notebook and pen. If I don’t have it with me, I write it down on my phone. However, I find that there are about a million distractions that might pop up on the phone so I try not to rely too heavily on it.
If I find myself starved on ideas it’s usually due to lack of proper input. To remedy this I try to have conversations with interesting people, set aside 2 hours of idea generation, read a book, listen to lectures/podcasts, Google/Wikipedia, etc.
Sometimes distracting myself and “procrastinating” by watching shows, YouTube, Facebook, playing videogames, or taking a walk helps unlock ideas as well.
So, here it is. And it’s not going to be sexy at all.
I look through my notes and ideas, sit down by the keyboard, and I write.
I write until I take a break for lunch. During/after lunch I usually watch a show or something on YouTube.
Then I go back to writing.
After a couple of hours I take a break to answer some messages questions via mail, Quora, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Maybe watch some short video or make calls.
Back to writing again, usually by this time I’m in edit mode.
After 1 or 2 hours I’m done. I check out whatever else needs doing, post some content on my blog and social media.
Now it’s usually somewhere between 6PM and 8PM, depending on how productive a day it’s been. Even if I’m on a roll I stop around 9PM at the latest.
I could work for a couple more hours, and I used to, but nowadays I’ve find that it doesn’t yield more or better results for me. In fact, sometimes it makes it worse.
In my younger years I used to rely on inspiration until I realized that I could spend weeks, sometimes months, without any output.
In my late 20s I came to the conclusion that I needed a schedule and consistency. I couldn’t control when and how often inspiration would strike. But I could control whether or not I showed up and did the work.
It took me several years to strike a comfortable balance. It’s still not perfect, and I doubt it ever will be. At least not for a longer period of time.
As I said, it isn’t sexy but it gets the work done.
I also came to realize that my work isn’t a reflection of who I am as a person, it’s not me, it’s seperate from me.
Sometimes the work is really inspired, creative, and great. Most of the time it’s average or just good. Only on rare occasion is it horrible.
I don’t get to have 100% control of the outcome. And I’m OK with that. In fact, I’m grateful.
I don’t always love the finished work.
I love the process.
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Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!