Understanding my creative process

I speak to a lot of people who seem amazed at my creative output, but to me what I do is normal, it’s a huge part of my everyday life, in fact I’d go as far as saying it involves almost every minute of my day from getting up to going to bed, and even then there are sometimes lightbulb moments in the middle of the night, when my brain is processing the day’s input.

Recently I’ve been thinking about my creative process, reading up and trying to understand what makes me tick. I had an epiphany when I read there are two types of imagination, synthetic and creative. Synthetic imagination deals with taking learned ideas, rearranging them and developing them. Creativity comes directly from ourselves, from our unconscious mind, this is how truly creative original work is formed.

I found this quote on the internet, I’m afraid I can’t credit the author as I can’t find the website. “True creation doesn’t come from the conscious mind. The creative faculty lies somewhere from beyond our analytical, logical brain.”

Because creativity comes from the unconscious, I feel it’s hard to grasp the benefits of creative training, you can’t see the result immediately, the task in hand is not the end result, you have to wait and over time you will see an increased yield in your creative productivity.

I’m no creative guru, merely a creative junkie, I can tell you what works for me but it may not be right for you.

My 12 tips to improving creativity

  • Time to play– As an artist I’ve seen a few raised eyebrows when I’ve suggested getting out the glue, lentils, scraps of fabric and sweet papers as a way of boosting creativity.  Many artists automatically think if you are doing something remotely artistic a finished artwork should be the outcome. So is a bit of child’s play  unnecessary then? Think about a professional footballer, on the pitch he hopes to score goals when interacting with the ball, but off the pitch there are many times he will interact with a ball in various ways,  to hone his skills in order to become better at goal scoring, he calls it training. It’s the same for us creative types we need to hone our creative skills, you probably won’t even be conscious of the benefits you gain from this as you are training the unconscious mind.
  • Empty the mind- personally I need Zen moments each day, time to chill out and let the subconscious mind process information. Sometimes it might be sandals and sunflower seeds approach with silence, stillness, and reflection. Or it could be head banging rock music and a bottle of wine, both have the same ultimate effect of diverting the conscious mind  allowing the unconscious mind time to process information.  I don’t know if this is actually true but it does work for me and seems logical enough.
  • Learn new techniques– not only is it good practice to constantly learn new techniques to develop your work, it also stimulates new ideas. I work in many different media, I move back and forth from one to another as I feel the need. This helps me keep things fresh and prevents monotony which is a creative passion killer.
  • Yin and yang- many creatives feel that you have to remain positive all the time, but in reality no one is, so all you do by seeing things through rose tinted glasses is denying yourself. Darker moody times produce dramatic work. There are many famous artists whose work wouldn’t be what it is without their dark side. We need a balance of yin and yang; if we only ate chocolate it wouldn’t taste nearly as good!
  • Stay true to yourself- there’s always the critic who tries to advise us, they seem to be an expert on your work and what we should be doing. Don’t be swayed by them, listen to yourself, it’s your creative process how can someone know better than you? I love this quote from Alan Alder “The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.”
  • Do something new – Whenever you can do something new, go somewhere you have never been, take a different route home, visit a gallery or museum. Don’t get stuck with a set routine. New experiences feed creative thinking.
  • Think off the wall thoughts- spend some time thinking totally off the wall thoughts, the more ridiculous the better, think about ideas beyond credibility. Do this when you are washing the dishes or sitting in a traffic jam. Think laterally, how do you send an elephant through the post?
  • Go with the flow- like I already mentioned I flit between things during my working day, when I feel like going out for a walk I drop everything and go. If say I’d planned to work with glass today but have a mad idea for something else, I just change my plan and do it. Afterwards I come back and get that day’s work completed. This attitude never gets in the way of me finishing orders on time but it does make every moment of the day a pleasure.
  • Take a walk – nothing serves me better than a daily walkfor boosting creativity, take time out to smell the roses and see the detail. It’s also meditative and reflective time, as well as time for the subconscious to process information. My work is very nature inspired so maybe that’s why it works so well for me.
  • Hang out, or not – I find nothing better for feeding the creative juices than hanging out with other creatives, especially when bouncing ideas around. Sometimes I like to drop out too, other people’s creative influences can be too much at times, if I’m spending too much time thinking about someone else’s work  or maybe someone is trying to influence me I take time out and get back into my own zone.
  • Write it down- a lot of artists swear by writing the “morning pages” to boost creativity, I found it made me dwell on negative points for the rest of the day rather than letting go of them. However I do write here on my blog, if I hadn’t written this article I wouldn’t understand my creative process so well. Brainstorming words and ideas is a good way of boosting creativity. I’m a visual person so I don’t write that much, but I am going to try and keep a notebook for writing down ideas, I’ve said that before but didn’t keep it up. I do write lists quite a lot as a way of getting the important stuff done, we do have to be organised to a certain extent.
  • Collect- By putting together collections of other people’s work that I like in the form of Etsy treasuries I discovered I had formed a visual reference of my taste, I saw the same colours cropping up, as well as styles, textures  etc.  Then it occurred to me Etsy treasuries are actually mood or inspiration boards.  I use my camera a lot and putting together images in a gallery on my website does the same thing, I quantify what I like and what inspires me. Of course I could collect cuttings from magazines and samples of things that inspire me and make actual inspiration boards, or put them in a scrap book.

These steps work for me , but my creative processes are evolving all the time, I love the fact that next week I might decide to do something I’ve never done before, it’s a fun journey.

I’d love to hear what you do to get your creative juices flowing.

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