I've got five bucks that says if you're reading this article, you're a creative person, or at least you aspire to be. But here's the question: are you ridiculously creative? Do you knock the socks off of everybody who meets you? Are you the envy of all your creative friends? Well if you're not, then maybe you want to be. Therefore, you should read this article.
(That's a good pitch, right? I mean, I'm trying here.)
But I digress. Point is, these uber-creative types aren't just poured out of a mold, they're the result of a specific set of processes that ensure that they stay the way they are. And — here's the cool part — you can steal their secrets. Don't believe me? Fine, don't read this then. Instead, feel free to eat that bag of Baked Lays you've got sitting on your desk, because man do they look yummy. Oh, they're barbecue flavor? I'm on it!
Feed Their Imagination
Imagine you live in a cave. There's no light, no extraneous noises, but you're left to be free and experiment with the artistic tools you have in front of you. There are no restrictions on what you can do, and everything will turn out exactly as you desire. Sounds perfect, right?
Sure, but that would be like living in a vacuum, and nobody wants that. (Except for Hoover or maybe Dyson, but I'm not into the real-estate-as-home-cleaning-appliances thing.) Without some kind of stimulation, sitting in that cave would get boring and it would get more and more difficult for inspiration to strike. That's why the ridiculously creative out there constantly feed their imagination with new experiences and ideas. They watch movies that are out of the norm. They read books that challenge their preconceptions. They do different things that spur their creativity is the point of what I'm saying here, and if you want to meet their goals, you should, too.
They Live with Routines and Tight Schedules
If you want to lose yourself in some OCD fun, check out The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. That book changed my life. It's all about why we do the things we do, and how we can establish good habits that will positively impact us in the future. And for the creative geniuses out there, they follow those routines to the letter.
Now this seems counter-intuitive, but it goes back to something that I talk about all the time. People complain about creative block — the idea that they're not able to output something at that particular moment because their brain is stuck — and say that there's no way to get around it. But there is: you work. There is no "muse" that needs to sing into your ear for your magical design to take root, and no special diet that will make it happen. Instead, you power through it; work until the idea does come to you, but you never stop working. This is what the ridiculously creative types out there do, because they know that the muse doesn't exist. It's all about you.
But wait — didn't I just say that these people worked on a strict schedule? Sure, but there's another thing that helps them out, and that's flexibility, both in their schedule and their abilities.
See, the ridiculously creative person understands that the routine and habits are what make them work so efficiently, but they also know that things will come up, and they'll have to adapt. By accepting that as an eventuality, they can be sure that they're ready to move if they have to.
They Use a Notebook (and Carry It Everywhere)
I've talked a lot about notebooks here on Creative Market, and there's a reason: I'm a huge fan. I don't know where I picked it up, but somewhere along the way I realized that my phone wasn't the best place to keep the thoughts that come up as I proceed throughout my day. There's something about the tactile feel of a pen on paper, combined with the flexibility to use it whenever and however you like, that makes it perfect for a creative.
Now again, I don't consider myself to be a super creative, but they use notebooks on a regular basis. Whether it's for sketching out notes or drawing layouts, they're handy to have nearby at a moment's notice. Go out and grab one today and keep it in your back pocket or in a bag, because it's invaluable.
Look for New Opportunities and Experiences
Let's go back to that cave analogy. As I mentioned before, staying in your cave and learning nothing is a difficult way to get be creative at all, much less ridiculously so. But if you want to step it up a notch like the big names in the field, you need to be open to new opportunities and experiences. Traveling, seeing things you wouldn't see normally and actively seeking those things out are critical to feeding your imagination (as previously stated), but acting on those for work purposes is great, too. What if you had the chance to hang out on a movie set for a day. Sure you'd lose that day of work, but imagine the contacts and things you'd learn while you were there. The super creatives know this and take those chances whenever they can.
Surround Themselves with Things That Inspire
Now I'm not going to claim that I'm in the realm of the ridiculously creative, but one thing I do that does help me out is surround myself with things that make me feel excited to get to work. For example, I love comic books — Batman and his crew in particular — so seeing prints and artwork from said comics makes me excited to go to work every day. That's why I have signed prints and penciled pages from various comics framed around my office, where I can easily see them. I also have examples of my own work in various spots, that way I can look at the things I have done well, and use that as motivation to continue the process.
Successful creatives do this to another level. Look at Casey Neistat, for example. His studio is a thing of legend, and when he redid it relatively recently, he added a screen that played The Godfather on constant loop. Why? Because that movie inspires him to become a better filmmaker. Why not make sure it was omnipresent in his life? You can do the same type of thing yourself with your workspace, and it's not that hard.
Me? I'm a slob. The last time I saw the inside of a gym there was a rope attached to the ceiling and I was wearing shorts that had "SHS" on the side. It's not that I'm not in shape; I've picked a shape, and it's round.
Seriously though, creative types who want to succeed exercise on the reg. It's important both for freeing your mind, and to keep your body in shape. Nothing is worse than backaches from hunching over your computer all day, and working out helps tremendously with that.
Ever talk to a kid? I have two of them, so I get to do that all the time. The other day I was chatting to my kid as he drew himself a picture on his Nintendo 2DS. I told him that when I was a kid, I used my pencil and sketchbook to draw my own comic book characters, including a character named Samurai Moose who was, predictably, a moose that was a samurai (the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were huge back then. Sue me). My son went right to a new screen on the 2DS and drew up "Super Mega Guy," who looks kind of like Kirby from Kirby Planet Robot (his favorite game) but had "booster arms" and "canon legs." Kids have no restrictions on creativity because they have no preconceived notions, and they play with that all the time.
Successful creatives do the same thing. They take chances with their work, and color outside of the lines. It's that freedom to express themselves that gives them an edge over the competition, and it's not that difficult to do. Just take some time out of your own day to play around with your work. You'll be happy with the results, and you just might learn something.
Take Time to Themselves
Sometimes I have weeks where I feel off. I'm not quite sure why, but I get more angry at silly things, I'm a bit snippy, and things just are ... weird. I can't get into the right headspace. And that's when I realize that the problem is that I haven't been reading for pleasure. Sure, I'll knock out a few articles on the web, but sitting in a chair other than the one in my office with a book in my hands.
It's important to take that time to yourself. It lets you clear your mind. You step away from the distractions that overcome you while you're at the computer, and it lets your mind go to another place. And it doesn't have to be reading, either. Take a shower. Watch a TV show. Play with your dog. Just take a few moments to be away from your work and just be you.
We could do a whole piece on meditation and mindfulness, but here's the gist: practicing mindfulness means placing your focus on the moment, right here and now. No distractions, just directing your attention on what you're doing, not what is to come. It's not easy to get that level of focus, but if you can achieve it through practice and discipline. The ridiculously creative types out there already have that under their belt, and as a result, can get more done.
One way to get into the habit is to learn meditation, or just focus on your breathing for a few minutes a day. The Apple Watch has an app called Breathe that helps you do just that, by forcing you to focus on your breathing for short windows of time. I've been trying that for the past week or two, and it certainly helps me calm down when it seems like the world is crashing down around me. You certainly don't need an Apple Watch to do the same thing, just set a timer and focus on nothing but deep breaths in and out for a minute or two. Do that regularly, and you're on your way to better focus.
Become a Master
I don't know about you, but I've got a long way to go to become the zen master of creativity that some people are, that's for sure. Fortunately, we can all learn from these tips and become better for it. Man, I can't wait until the day that I do. I'm gonna get so much done ...
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