Whether you are just learning about your creativity or have been a creative forever, you can add power to your creativity with the basics. Regular review of the basics of your craft will keep your skills sharp. But remember to revisit these eight basics of creativity. That will also sharpen your skills.
Create Something Every Day
Create even when you don’t feel like it. Be your own boss, expect results. Even if you can only spend fifteen minutes right after you get up or during your lunch break… whenever. Creating something every day is akin to exercising. You strengthen that creative muscle by exercising daily. When your habit is to create something every day, your creativity will be there on the days when you don’t feel like working.
Always Have Your Basic Tools on Hand
Tools can be anything. Pen, paper, ink, software, hardware, techniques, reference books, even your workspace.
It’s okay if you can’t afford the optimal tools right away, but you can grow your collection of tools.
One tool I strongly recommend is an ergonomic workspace.
• Practice Your Craft’s Basics
All arts have basic rules or guidelines. Make it a habit to review the basics via a textbook, with a critique partner, or with a mentor regularly. If you’re stuck, reviewing the basics might help you out of that rut. A strong understanding of the basics will give your creativity a powerful boost.
Schedule yourself a yes-yes brainstorming session. All ideas, no matter how stupid, ridiculous, or extreme you may think they are, in this session they are acceptable. Make a list or sketch. Then mix and match them to create new ideas.
• Ask questions
Question the basics. Who, what, why, how, and sometimes where can be your creativity friends. They can jumpstart ideas you’ve brainstormed or ideas that aren’t quite what you want. Ask, why is this so? Can you alter it without ruining the esthetics of your art? Can you omit it? How can you turn it on its head?
• Fill the well
Make it a regular habit to read inspirational (to you) fiction or nonfiction, view images, listen to sounds, feel textures, or experience new or revisit familiar scents. Find the two or three methods that fill your creative well and make it a habit to go to those regularly.
• Copy the Masters
You may think this is for painters only. But it’s not. Writers, dancers, singers, no matter what your creative skill, copy the master—or try to. It’s amazing what you learn by making an exact copy and then playing with the Master’s work to see if you can improve it.
Believing in your creativity is the most important basic of any creative’s mind set. If you are always putting yourself down, demeaning your abilities, you are diminishing your creative power. So practice believing in your creativity. Start with a ritual or a mantra. Act as if you believe you are creative and real belief will follow.
Make it a Habit
You’ve heard the line: if you don’t plan, plan to fail. It’s true in creativity and in productivity. Set a place, a date, and a time you plan to create. Then guard that time with everything you’ve got. When you show up regularly and you protect that time, you reinforce your creativity. The habit of showing up regularly does wonders for being able to create every time you show up.
There are people who believe they are multi-focus creatives. I’m not here to diss them, but if you are starting out or frustrated or blocked. Focus on one craft. Or focus on one project. You don’t have to limit yourself forever. But unless you focus, you cannot know the basics or the limits of your creativity. To increase your creativity, limit your options anytime you’re stuck or feeling frustrated.
Embrace Bad Ideas and Mistakes
Part of creativity is mistakes and bad ideas. Embrace that because one day you’ll take what you think is a mistake or a bad idea and create something great.
Join a Creative Community
There are all kinds of creative communities. In-person, online, social media groups, coffee house groups, work groups, and groups that get together for movie nights. Those that share their work with each other may not be what you need. You might need a social group to share your frustrations or discuss techniques or problems. Shared journeys are often inspiring. Yes, most creatives are introverts, but we all need some social interaction. Choose what works best for you.
If you can’t find a community, make one yourself. There are many ways you can do this. Look at the ways your art form can appear in a creative community and go for it.
And never feel obligated to stay in a creative community that belittles you or your talent. You may also need a different community at different times in your creative life. There’s no shame in finding what you need or in leaving behind a group you may have outgrown.
You are Creative
But you must nurture creativity. Feed it the basics. Exercise it. Practice, not to be perfect, but to give your creativity power. Regularly revisiting the basics will add power to your creativity. Remember to be creative, you don’t have to be perfect.
Do you remember to add power to your creativity with the basics? Did I miss a basic you revisit? Please share in the comments below.