Updated: Nov 22, 2019
Like most complicated relationships, your creative process is typically one that starts with the best of intentions and eventually evolves into an unhealthy mess where you’ve lost all sense of boundaries and feel powerless to it’s hold on you. You tell yourself you’re going to be creative and you do, literally, everything else instead until you no longer have time to get those creative juices flowing.
Or you spend hours creating and are so immersed in your project that you, once again, break plans with your family and friends at the last minute. You go off the radar for days and come to the surface to find your business’s bills aren’t paid and your employees are unhappy. Creativity is a gift but it also can be an incredible burden, especially when you don’t feel like you have any control as to when it occurs and how to use it productively.
The first step in a healthy relationship with your process is recognizing when you typically are at your most creative. This typically falls into one of three categories. Depending on the task and the deliverable, your approach to your own creative style may vary. Creativity is adaptable and you may need to apply one or all three strategies to accomplish a task.
The Miners: The first kind of creative process is when someone slowly chips away at a creative task. This involves transitioning into a creative space perhaps first thing in the morning or late at night, and factoring in the time to get into this creative flow and out of it again.
The Juicers: These people tend to spend pulpy amounts of time in a creative space, often days in a row, and then spend several days afterward doing more left-brain, business & life admin. They squeeze their creativity, and gulp it down when it's flowing.
The Procrastinators: And then, there’s the procrastinators (👋🏻). No judgement, these creatives tend to be forces of nature. These are the individuals who wait until the very last minute to pursue a creative project and then fully immerse themselves in the adrenaline rush of the last minute thrill of doing their best possible work. Personally, I think procrastination can be a really powerful tool for this very reason. When there’s zero time left on the clock, you are forced to commit like a bachelorette on the bachelor and just go for it because everything ever depends on it (sort of).
Turly, understand which category you typically fall in.
Do you find yourself waking up with brilliant ideas? Does inspiration come in waves and you find yourself going off the radar in an effort to capture your illusive ideas? Maybe (like me) you procrastinate on a task and then just hop to it with several all-nighters.
Recognize which process you really adore and figure out ways to make it work in your favor.
Create a space to truly express with zero distractions and obligations. This doesn’t have to be work project. Start to explore anything you want in these moments. Practice shifting your creative process as being something you do exclusively for yourself without the need to create for anyone but you. Creativity, after all, is a skill just like anything else and you have to practice it in order to hone your craft.
Once you’ve started regularly commiting to a certain creative process, create a system for capturing an idea. Write those ideas down in Trello or Evernote or just a regular old-fashioned notebook. By focusing in on capturing ideas, you’re going to have more of them. You’re going to make it habitual. And you’ll find in time, this creative mindset will translate over to other aspects of your life and aid in problem solving within your business.
Leaning into this creative feeling, especially when it feels like a waste of time, will actually help you problem solve. Beyond that, if you're the procrastinating type, do yourself and EVERYONE in your life a favor and clear your schedule, communicate your upcoming deadlines and let your people know you're going offline for a few days/hours/weeks and you'll return to human form post-deadline, and fear the wrath (or unanswered calls & emails) in the meantime.
Take back control of your creative process, and recognize the power that comes with doing so, to come up with out of the box solutions in all aspects of your life.