It’s time for a new project again. The new project will be designed for Burning man Festival in Black Rock City, Nevada. I’m working with three other people on this one, and it’s working out really well. Two of the people live 3,000 miles away from me so designing something over email and texting is a new experience for me. Working virtually really focuses things because everything important is written down and we don’t spend so much time “hanging out” instead of working.
The project is called HeartBeat Dome and it triggers on your own heartbeat. The concept is cool because hey, everyone has a heartbeat, which means that everyone can relate to it.
Here’s the link for a formal description and a couple of images of the proposed HeartBeat Dome.
Many conversations center around what is creativity and how to get more of it. I define creativity as an unusual way of solving a problem. The problem can be as basic as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or as esoteric as “what am I going to create?”. This last (very difficult) question encompasses the whole universe since nothing is impossible and you’re only limited by your own mind.
There is a lot less need for creativity when you have limits.
Take the peanut butter and jelly sandwich for example. By definition, there are only three ingredients. The only choices are choosing the brand and type of peanut butter (organic? smooth? added sugar?), jelly (strawberry? apricot?) and bread (toasted? grain? Wonder?).
If you want that sandwich right now, you are further limited by what is available in the immediate area.
So how do you answer more difficult questions? Creativity is by no means limited to things that fall in the artistic range. For example, creativity is used to solve medical, mathematical and all different kinds of problems.
How do you cure cancer? How do you grow longer eyelashes? How do you write a mathematical algorithm that will do your taxes? What about writing a Smart phone app?
All of those things need creativity, out of the box thinking, the ability to grab a problem and solve it with undefined things.
I went searching online for what defines a creative person and found many discussions of this topic. The reason that it is so important is because there are always new problems to be solved, in business, in life, in art. The world needs creativity to move forward.
So how do you get more of it? Here is a little bit about my process.
My creative process is typically to think of the problem and work backwards to solve it. I’ll come up with the vision, as complicated as my imagination wants it to be. I don’t get sucked into negativity as in “that won’t work, that’s too hard, that will cost too much money”. Those are details that hamper my creativity personally. I might have the capacity to dream up a Giraffe petting zoo, but that doesn’t mean I can or need to make it happen.
Visualization without limits trains your mind to be more creative!
Once I have the vision hammered out, I’ll write in words a summary of what it is. Then it’s time for details. And I’m not afraid or too prideful to give up on something before it gets started. Why work on something that isn’t going to be fun to work on?
Creativity takes practice. One of my uncles wrote a book called the ABCs of Business and it has this great advice of taking a walk every morning for 2 hours. No iPod, no dog, no companion. When you are truly alone, you focus your mind entirely. I had never even considered doing this before I read his book, but now I try to do this every morning for 25 minutes. It really helps.
What if you crave creativity but have gotten comfortable with the Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich limits? Narrow down your choices. If it’s a building project and it requires paint, make it require only one choice, warm color or cool color. Ultimately it matters more that you do it than what decision you make.
There is also a lot to be said for Getting ‘Er Done. Coming up with visions, ideas and plans takes a lot of effort. I have gotten really comfortable with failure, a byproduct of coming up with big ideas and plans.
I have the occasional month or two where I’m just not feeling it. I get through those times by pretending that I do feel it. Fake it til you Make it is the best advice I have for anyone trying to jumpstart their own creativity.