Creativity is very important, regardless of your profession or area of expertise, but especially content creators require a certain degree of creativity in their work. We believe that creativity is something that everyone can develop and stimulate in their own way, but what exactly is meant by creativity? The Oxford dictionary describes creativity as “The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.”

In other words, imagination, original ideas, and inventiveness are the building blocks for a creative mind, but how do you make sure that you continue to develop and expand these essential elements? In this article, we’ll provide you with three tips that you can directly apply to your life. 

Why is creativity important?

Someone who fully understands the importance of creativity is Jack Ma, owner of Alibaba Group. He often speaks about future changes concerning the global impact of Artificial Intelligence. During one of the many talks he gave on this topic, he indicated that people should never compete with machines because this is a lost battle for the human race. However, there is one thing in which robots will not triumph over humankind: creativity. It is for this reason that Jack Ma is an advocate of changing contemporary educational systems into a combination of traditional courses and courses that encourage creative expression as preparation for the future. This demonstrates the value of creativity. 

There are a lot of people who do not identify themselves as creative. However, creativity embodies more than, for example, painting a picture or writing a song. It can also incorporate the art of turning something negative into something positive. Additionally, creativity can be whether you are capable of viewing a certain situation from different angles or have the ability to learn new things. Creativity is a very broad concept with many elements, but one thing that should be noted is that creativity is not a present certainty for everyone. It is a process that you can get going and can stimulate. That is why we want to provide you with the following tips to stimulate your creative process as a creator.  

#1 Connect the unexpected

“Creativity is just connecting the dots” - Steve Jobs 

This quote, taken from Steve Jobs, perfectly summarizes how you can start your creative process. If you ask any creative person how their work of art came to be, the explanation often includes a story on specific events or experiences. These events are the so-called ‘dots’ that can be seen as pieces of a puzzle. At first, you don’t know where each piece belongs, but in time, the purpose of every piece becomes clearer. A creative process is a combination of (unexpected) events that lead to a beautiful creation. Therefore, creativity is more than a gift of one’s character that you can summon on command. Anyone can start a creative process and it is important to know what you can do in your life to get your creative processes started.

Not everyone will have the same lifestyle, but essentially every creator needs to be open to new experiences. In order to connect certain dots in your life, you need to able yourself to create these dots. Dots are experiences and events in your daily life. The more open you are to new experiences, the more dots you allow into your life. Contemporary life can make it very tempting to live your life in a personal bubble. And technological advances only add to this, by allowing us to decide what kind of news we want to watch on whatever platform we prefer. In addition to this, advertisements are adjusted to our online behavior and preferences. This highlights that we can selectively customize our bubble and live our lives from within. The big downside to this is that we are less open to new perspectives and impulsiveness, which can interfere with creative development.

That is why we recommend creators to have an open mind at all times and focus on looking for dots to connect. Where to find these dots, what the dots are or how many dots you need is not important. It is important that you are open to new experiences and that you embrace them. It can be useful to keep a journal in which you document spontaneous creative thoughts and impulses. This can also include events and experiences or reflective thoughts. Make sure that it remains a natural process without any demands or expectations. Document what stands out for you.

#2 Be spontaneous and impulsive

“The creative adult is the child who survived” - Ursula Le Guin

The second lesson on stimulating creativity is inspired by the quote above of Ursula Le Guin. Why is this specific quote so on point?

Most of the time children do not live according to certain labels, in a framework or with expectations. And if they do, children will not conceive it as such. This gives children a certain degree of freedom in their thoughts. If there is one thing that obstructs creativity, it is frameworks and expectations.

Think about it: it wouldn’t make any sense to take time to connect unexpected dots if there is a list of expectations that you must live by on the other side. Obviously, it is unrealistic for any adult to live their life without any regard for expectations or demands. Think of requests from your superior at work, a client or your followers on Social Media.

So to prevent yourself from getting (too) caught up in these frameworks, you can apply a method to allow yourself to embrace your inner child every now and then. You can achieve this by not taking yourself too seriously all the time, staying open to new experiences and taking times of solitude to think about the following questions:

  • What would I like to do if money and time were no determining factor?
  • What would I like to undertake if my name would not be linked to it?
  • What would I attempt if I know it will be a guaranteed success? 

Maybe you won’t have an immediate answer to these questions, but try to think about it or at least create some space for yourself in which demands and expectations don’t play a role.

You can stimulate this with certain exercises. For example, you can force yourself to think of an idea, inspired by something that, at first glance, has nothing to do with the idea itself. This may sound contradictory, but it can have a positive effect. Try using this method and you will be surprised by the result and the way you can train your brain to make unexpected connections between different elements. For instance, if you have to come up with a concept for a video production, try thinking of an idea inspired by the life of an ant. Unless you have to create a video on ants, chances are very small that your product concerns the life of ants. If you have to make a motivational video, for example, and you have to create a storyline and support this with relevant examples, try thinking of the ant and write down your thoughts:

  • An ant is black or red
  • An ant is small
  • People often don’t notice ants
  • Despite their size, together ants are able to move whole logs of wood

The idea: no matter how small you are or how limited your resources are, always surround yourself with the right people who can assist you in making the impossible possible. This idea resulted from looking at the power of ants when they work together.

This is just a small example but it shows that sometimes it can be good to make a detour with your thoughts to establish a new thought or idea.

#3 Keep trying 

“I think creativity is better described as failing repeatedly until you get something right” - Seth Godin

Creativity concerns emotions and the ability to reflect and analyze your thoughts. It almost always includes uncertain and debatable factors and not concrete facts like 1+1=2. With creativity, you inevitably encounter moments of failure when trying to connect certain dots. However, you will also encounter moments of success. There is no standard formula that leads to a brilliant result. The only consistency is the fact that you must keep on trying if you wish to creatively develop.

In advance, you are unable to know whether 1+1 equals 2. You can only know whether an idea is good by 1) thinking of an idea and 2) executing the idea. You can critically analyze this as much as you want, but you must understand that you are unable to be a 100% sure whether an idea will be successful or not. In case you process an unsuccessful idea in one of your content pieces, you at least have data that can tell you more about the reason why the idea was unsuccessful. You can then use this data to creatively develop yourself and your work.

Someone who can teach us a lot about creativity is Seth Godin. This entrepreneur is known for his work on the marketing of ideas in the digital age. Godin can teach creators how to make the most of their content. Coming Friday we’ll post a new article on the lessons that you can learn from Seth Godin. So stay tuned and feel free to share your tips on how to stay creative with your content!