We all make stuff.Tips to let your creativity flourish FALL 2012 Flora Caputo
In the beginning… • Everyone is creative • As a child, you were imaginative, curious, playful. • It’s still their under all the “layers of growing up.” • It’s not IF you are creative, it’s HOW? • 98% creative at age 5 • 10% creative at age 30 We need to awaken that self, deep inside of us.
Creative Gremlins BOO! YOU SUCK! • What hinders our left brain? • HABIT • NOISE & Fray • Negativity • Fear We are going to go through tools to paralyze the gremlins so they don’t paralyze you!
Creative Gremlin 1 HABIT
Habit • When we take the same path over and over again, it feels safe. It’s expected. It’s comforting. In this day and age, we need safety and comfort from the busy chaos. It’s natural for us to gravitate towards habit. HOWEVER… • Remember when we were children? We were not afraid to take a short cut to see where it would lead. We explored. We took risks. As we got older, we became risk averse.
Habit • We need to get into the habit of getting out of the habit. • We need to cross-train your brain, no new experiences equals no new connections with your neural pathways. That means no new ideas. • BRAIN-ERSIZE! • Stretch your brain • Simple exercises that take you out of the comfort of daily habit & routine. • These force the brain to make new connections, thus growing capacity & willingness to think and act creatively. “The brain is a beautiful thing. It wakes up with you in the morning and goes to sleep as soon as you go to work.” Robert Frost
HABIT • QUICK BRAIN-ERSIZE! Lets GO! Brainstorm 25 alternative uses for a toothpick. Make a list of 10 vanity license plates for yourself. Pick your favorite and make one on template given. Give creative paint names to colors around you and share. You will be given a deck of brain-ersizesto keep at your desk when you need to break habit.
HABIT • Another way to break monotony is simply by getting up and moving somewhere else! Go to a different room, different desk, even the bathroom. Go outside, take a walk around the block. Walk the stairs. Clear your desk to go think somewhere else undisturbed for 30-60 min. • Fill your creative bank. Clear your desk so you can run out at lunch to feed your brain. Visit a shop nearby. Go to the library. Visit the museum on a free day. And this leads me to my next gremlin….
Gremlin #2 Noise and fray
Noise & Fray • Email, and the digital, busy world in general won’t shut up. • Your right brain (that logical, critical side...that side that’s like SPOCK in star trek?) doesn’t shut up either once it’s awake. We need to shut it all off so we can turn on creativity.
Noise and fray • Email and the web • Choose to turn it all off for an hour while you work. • Choose to batch respond to emails twice a day with an autoresponder as to when emails will be responded to, and if there is an immediate need to call. The trick is to follow your rule. • Walk away to another place to work, sans anything digital.
NOISE AND FRAY • That pesky right brain just won’t quit. • Morning papers are a great tool, a la Julia Cameron. • Every morning when you get up, have a journal waiting and write three pages of whatever comes to your brain…total stream of consciousness. No more, no less. The idea is to let your left brain play without the right brain butting in. Your right brain is not fully awake yet when you just get up, and your left brain is all refreshed from dream-land. So it wants to come out and play, and you should let it! • Eventually, ideas bubble up easier and your right brain becomes more open to them and less critical.
NOISE AND FRAY • Allow for “percolation” • After intense brainstorming, or working intently on something, get away from it. • Sleep on it, forget about it all together, go for a walk • Give the idea(s) room to breath and grow • The brain does not turn off, especially the left side • Even if you are not consciously thinking about the problem or idea, your conscience self will leave the unconscious alone to do it’s thing. • Find your percolation spot (create your worksheet)
NOISE AND FRAY Maker’s schedule versus Manager’s schedule One reason programmers dislike meetings so much is that they're on a different type of schedule from other people. Meetings cost them more. • Manager’s schedule: The manager's schedule is for bosses. Each day is cut into one hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you're doing every hour.The most powerful people are on the manager's schedule. It's the schedule of command.
NOISE AND FRAY • Maker’s schedule: Makers make things. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can't write or program well in units of an hour. That's barely enough time to get started.When you're operating on the maker's schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Meetings change the mode in which you work.
NOISE AND FRAY • Maker’s schedule cont.: Makers make things. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can't write or program well in units of an hour. That's barely enough time to get started.When you're operating on the maker's schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Meetings change the mode in which you work.
NOISE AND FRAY • Maker’s schedule: If you're a maker, don't your spirits rise at the thought of having an entire day free to work, with no appointments at all? Well, that means your spirits are correspondingly depressed when you don't. Each type of schedule works fine by itself. Problems arise when they meet-which is our environment. What to do?
NOISE AND FRAY • Navigating both schedules • Managers need to be sensitive to Maker’s time, show restraint if their makers need chunks of time to work. • OWN YOUR TIME. If a large project needs a lot of think time, schedule meetings toward the latter half of the day. • Close your door, move to a place with a door, put a sign on your chair. Block out a “no meeting zone” on your calendar. • Be respectful of the “pop on over” and the call across the agency. If someone is doing that to you, let them know to schedule time with you or send an email that you can get back to when you are back on manager’s time. • Your time is yours, own it.
NOISE AND FRAY • Awakening your intuition • Your intuition is a quiet & loyal friend The more you practice your intuition, them ore alert you’ll be to it’s signals Intuition actually lives in the right brain. connections and answers are going on all over in the left brain. You need quiet, calm and to slow down so that they emerge and get through to the right brain then emerge as a solution. That tickle in the right brain, that 6th sense is your intuition.
NOISE AND FRAY • Exercise your intuition • Play a game with yourself, guess who is on the phone before you answer it • Guess who is going to win, before the end of the game • Could be as easy as when it pokes you, ask yourself what it is trying to tell you. • PICK-3 process game (hand out)
NOISE AND FRAY • SLOW IT DOWN! It’s not that we CAN’T, it’s that we honestly forget. So.,,think of ways to remind yourself to slow down -Set up a reminder to turn off your outlook for 15 min a day. -Put your watch on your other wrist. Each time you go to look for it, it reminds you to get up and walk around the office. (this is also a brainersize) -Turn off everything and go outside the office for 5 minutes for a gulp of fresh air.)
Creative Gremlin #3 Negativity
NEGATIVITY • A negative comment can snip a bloom of an idea quicker than it can get a chance to truly blossom. We all have experienced this ourselves. Using positive language can guide ideation to someplace really great.
NEGATIVITY • 3 key phrases to ask during a brainstorm- • “What if…? What else..? Why Not?” • We do this already, making dinner, picking out clothes, etc. “ What if | we make chicken and rice tonight?” “ We have no rice” “What else? We can make potatoes instead? “ “ Why Not? Hal likes potatoes.”
NEGATIVITY • What if? The first idea that pops in your head, no matter what. • What else? Can you expand on it? With a new idea or variation? Does it have legs? • Why not? Figure out why each idea would not work based on a genuine obstacle-but many things are doable. PUSH! I call this “idea volleyball.”
NEGATIVITY • How to give “positive judgement”? • Lets face it, not all ideas are good ones, but sometimes a not so good one can build into a clio-worthy idea depending on where it goes and grows. • At some point, things do need to end up on the cutting floor. But it need to be for the right reasons and done in a non-destructive way. • Efficient with resources too, lets not waste time on an idea that truly is not going to get off the ground. CAREFUL! Sometimes it is easier to kill and idea than support it! Each idea will warrant 4 negative responses before 1 positive one.
NEGATIVITY • Positive Judgement = I. Q. I: INTEREST Q: QUESTION What interests you about the idea, then what questions/concerns might you have about it.
NEGATIVITY • Positive language is important • GOOD WORDS • Cool! • Way to go! • Wecould try that! • Yes, and… • That could work • There’s a novel dircetion • Oh, I like that! • BAD WORDS • Costs too much • We’ve never done it that way • The boss won’t go for it • Lets sit on it for a bit • It’s not part of your job
NEGATIVITY • Keep an idea alive • Kind of like volleyball, see if it has some life before it hits the ground • YES, AND….versus YES, BUT…… • Ideas are rarely perfect when thrown in the air. Needs developing and tweaking. DO it on an upnote to keep it alive, see if it’s really something.
NEGATIVITY • LAUGHTER Children laugh 150xs a day Adults laugh 15 xs a day • Laughter releases endorphins, keeping you positive, light and open • Look at funny things and pass around, share jokes and stories and laugh!
Creative Gremlin #4 FEAR
FEAR • People want to be safe and warm. Ideas that push mean risk, and getting out of habit-unfortunately all things that make us feel safe. We can make it safe to take risks by positive language/judgement and environment. • Fear can be paralyzing, but not fear itself. • Fear lets you know you are moving into unknown territory, which is a signal for stirring creativity. It is how you respond to it that is important. From the moment of fear, JUMP! Be brave!
FEAR • We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot. Eleanor Roosevelt
COLOR cAN INSPIRE • Color is other stimulus altogether • Have color pens or crayons when ideating • “We all went off to kindergarten with a magical box of crayons and graduate high school with a disposable ball point pen.” Surround yourself with visual color. Pull images that inspire you and put them around your work area. Start a pinterest board and/or follow color blogs such as colourlovers.com
“IDEA-Trapping” • Also called “idea-awakening” • When we sleep, about 95% of our brain is lit up like a Christmas tree, with neurons firing all over the place! When we are awake, it dulls down to about 10%. • What if you can lure and trap an idea or solution while it is running around at night?
IDEA-Trapping • Before bed (or a morning), think about the challenge • Write down facts you know about it • Rewrite the challenge in questions form a number of times and choose the best one. • Put questions in a purse or pocket, do not think about it again. • Go to sleep/continue with your life. • Many ideas will come to you the next day. Write them down, making note of where, what & when they came to you so you know what stimulus worked to coax it out of your head.
DESIGN EXCERCISES • Logo work • Visit a crowdsourcing site and ook at some of the jobs clients are asking for. Choose one and pretend it is real. See how many logos on a sketchpad you can come up with in 20 minutes. • Typography • Go online and find a good quote that inspires you. Time yourself, and see how many ways you can arrange the words and vary the typefaces to create a different look and feel. Play with colors, layers and textures. Try and communicate the message of the quote with what you do with color and type.
DESIGN EXCERCISES • Photo effects and manipulation • Grab a free stock image and bring it into photoshop. A free one is sxc.hu. For the 1st 20 minutes, see how you can manipulate the original photo two different times. • Use filters, layers, change the composition, omit sections, apply effects. See how you changed the feeling of the photo both times in 20 minutes. • After doing design exercises, ask yourself do I have distinct habits when designing? What can I improve upon? How many ideas could I come up with in 20 min.? Was I distracted at all? How can I change that?
IDEATION TECHNIQUES • 4 “Elements” quadrant • Mindmapping • Get your butt fired technique
IN SUMMARY • JUST SAY NO TO • Busy mind-emails, social, cell phone, hurry, GO vs. BE and too “comfortable” (habit). • WORRY, fear and expectation • Assumptions • Judgement • Negative language