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Notes on being creative

Updated on January 28, 2015

Yes, there are limits

The biggest lie one can tell you is that there are no limits for creativity. Not only there are limits for creativity but they also will always be imposed to you, all the time. In fact, it all beggins with the limitation of time itself. Well, time is limited, spaces are limited, knowledge is limited, energy is limited, money is limited, resources are limited, therefore, creativity is limited.

So, the best way I can think of describind creativity is how to make the best of things within your limits. On one hand, if you think outside of the box without having the box in perspective, you might even come up with a great idea, but you probably won't be able to sell it. On the other hand, if your creative thoughts are always directed towards others (or towards maketing and selling), you will never be able to actually enjoy your hability and to do something really interesting for yourself.

On this note, I love what writer and cartoonist Hugh MacLeod says:

The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do. And what you are not.

Art suffers the moment other people start paying money for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The more people will tell you what to do, the less control you will have, the more bullshite you will have to swallow, the less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.

by Hugh MacLeod
by Hugh MacLeod

Planning creativity

So, here is another limit: what you are willing to do and what you are not.

As freelance writes, we often create for other people. Websites, companies, sometimes even authors will pay us so they can take advantage of our creative power. If we allow it, customers (or the industry as a whole) will drain all of this energy for themselves - and usually we are left with this crazy need of creating more.

To renew our "power of creation" we must, first of all, know when to let our brain rest. And that's the first step of planning creativity: sleep well. 8 hours a night. Don't get to that dangerous point of exhaustion that might lead you to insanity.

Don't force things too much. When stressed, your brain doesn't work properly. You should interpolate periods of focused activity with short periods of relaxation and diffuse thinking.

Keeping a routine is interesting because it will also decrease the amount of brain work, eliminating little, unimportant decisions, therefore saving energy - that can be used in your creative process. You can save some time in your day to do something different or unexpected, like going to the movies, walking without destination, reading a book, learning something new... That's the time when you should stimulate your brain (and maybe taking advantage of that energy you've just saved).

Silence is crucial. If you need to stay focused, every noise will serve as unwanted stimulus and will require more energy from you to deal with it. What is more, when you love what you are doing and you have the perfect surroundings to do it, the results can only be incredible; you'll practically fuse with your job.

Being perfect is not an option

I personally believe perfection is boring. What is more, if you need to create anything, you're not perfect. And you won't be perfect after creating. So, have confidence in yourself being aware that perfection is not a human quality and it will never be.

Usually the most brilliant ideas happen in specific historical and cultural contexts, basing themselves in past information or ideas. So, know your history - and you might also learn that things before weren't perfect as well. Try to observe things from different perspectives, practice acquiring new points of view. But if something doesn't seem to be working, put it aside and carry on! The problem you can't solve now will maybe make sense later.

According to Marina Abramović,

We can’t invent anything in this world which is not there already. It’s about seeing in a different way. Anything that is revolutionary is in front of your nose and it is never complicated. But you don’t see it until you have a safe mind. Performance can help people to get into a state of mind to perceive the simplicity.

Get inspired

Of course there are many quotes on art and creativity by accomplished artists. Here are some of the most interesting ones so you can get some good insight:

  • "All great art contains at its center contemplation, a dynamic contemplation." (Susan Sontag)
  • "The only interesting ideas are heresies." (Susan Sontag)
  • "Despair is a narcotic. It lulls the mind to indifference." (Charles Chaplin)
  • "If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got." (Albert Einstein)
  • "Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will." (George Bernard Shaw)
  • "Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye." (Dorothy Parker)
  • "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." (Scott Adams)
  • "Your intuition and your intellect should be working together… making love. That’s how it works best." (Madeleine L’Engle)
  • "Most breakthroughs are based on linking information that usually is not thought of as related. Integration, synthesis both across and within domains, is the norm rather than the exception." (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
  • "Criticism and finding trouble is, in the Chinese context, a positive, creative act." (Ai Weiwei)

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