bubbles under water
Photo by Sime Vasioli on Unsplash

The Eternal Stream

My tips and tricks on being creative 100% of the time

Creative professionals are always struggling with things like creativity block, short deadlines to handle a lot of new work, day-to-day stress, personal problems, and a lot of other distractions. For that reason, a lot is being said online about how to unblock creativity.

People spend time discussing how to generate new ideas out of nothing, or even how to recycle old ideas into new ones. In this post, I will try to demystify the belief that there is a correct way of unblocking our creative skills. For me, it is not about methods nor recipes. It is just about some healthy habits, to be curious, and to work hard.

To create is like any other action: we can decide to do or not do it.

As a creative professional, I tend to disagree with the idea that creativity is a passive skill. It is just not true. Creativity is a very active skill that demands a lot of effort and brute force. The only thing is that brute force comes from our brains instead of our arms.

Of course, ideas sometimes do come out of thin air. Or maybe they come from inexplicable sources, like our dreams. Both have already happened to me. So, I’m well aware of the fact that we do not control when we have a new idea.

However, a creative professional does not depend on chance nor inspiration. She depends on her synthetic skills, her ability to know what is best for each context, her knowledge of her audience or public, and her own experience in consuming art, content, and entertainment. In sum, a lot of individual characteristics among which chance does not take part.

So, I strongly argue that to be constantly creative is not to float in some kind of eternal stream of creation. We have to swim. We have to spend energy. We struggle not to draw and to keep progressing even if the stream changes its course.

Of course, it’s hard. There are some good practices I use to make this work easier. The first one is to acknowledge that we are in constant Ideation. We do not stop ideating nor even for one second.

Not a simple task, of course. To give you an interesting comparison, creating is just like running: it only gets easier with practice. The natural tendency is that your creativity will enhance with time and experience, just like you will be able to run faster and longer.

Getting to be creative every time demands hard work, but it does not mean you have to be methodical. How I said, it is about some basic and healthy actions first. Afterward, it is natural that you will develop your own methods. Below, I will show some of the habits and practices that work well for me.

Takes notes all time, I mean, all time.

Today we have smartphones. Never, in the whole human history, it was so easy to access a notepad. We are all carrying it in our pockets, along other thousands of features that can help with our constant Ideation.

Since we can not control when the idea will arrive, make sure you can record it when it comes. It can be with a voice recorder, a note pad, or even a painting canvas. What better suits me is to write the idea down. In a messaging app, I have a group in which I’m the only member, so I can write things down or record my voice just for me.

Go and find what suits you better to record your ideas. Probably, your best practice will have something to do with your line of work. Maybe writing things down is not the best practice for visual creatives such as graphic designer, for instance.

Walk a lot.

I mean, do not constrain yourself to your office or studio. If you spend almost all day between the same four walls, then you’re killing your ability to be opened and relaxed. Do not wait for the block to go for a walk. Have the habit of walking, or even maybe running. Those habits help me a lot to unleash my energy and relax my mind.

If you have no reason to walk during your routine, invent it. Run some errands, go to a park, do something on foot you would usually do by car or bus, or just walk around.

Let yourself be curious.

I mean, be open. To be curious is not to be easily distracted. To be distracted will not help you to swim. Instead, it will get you tired. To be curious is about being able to be invested in what’s happening at the moment. Sometimes you will profit more by being 100% at the moment than to focus on your next deadline.

Good ideas do not have metaphysical origins. They come from the real world, and the real world is around us. To access it, we only need attention and a bit of curiosity. To be curious, for me, is to let yourself be affected by what is in front of you and be willing to learn what the moment is telling. It can tell you your next idea, maybe.

To be curious and to be present at the moment is a skill that the modern human being is losing gradually. Deadlines are each day occupying more and more of our concerns. As a creative professional, you need the ability to keep at least one part of yourself safe from this kind of stress.

So, fight stress and relax.

The following will sound odd, but trying to relax is the first action one shall take in the face of adversity. I’m not telling you to not worry about anything. I’m offering you a very similar solution I proposed on the last topic. Sharpen your ability to ease your spirit and be more zen despite the tragedies of modern life.

Easier said than done. But this is life as a creative professional. I’m not the right person to tell exactly how to fight stress, but I have my ways of doing so. They work for me, what do not means it’ll work for anyone.

The ultimate stress fighter, for me, is Literature. I’m always reading a book and I’m always updating my reading list on my Kindle. Reading fiction (or even non-fictional stories, like autobiographies) is a great way of deviate your mind of your problems, because we automatically become invest in other life’s conflicts and problems.

Literature has the power of abstracting ourselves from our lives, which is great if you want to maintain a healthy mind and a creative spirit. Watching movies and series also work, of course. I believe the principle is the same.

Wake up early, or go to sleep very late.

Whatever works for you. The important thing is for you to have a moment just for yourself. To wake up very early is good because you will have a fresh mind. To go to sleep very late is also good because you will have solo time to ponder about the day. To be awake at night is often a deep and introspective experience. Maybe you will not have new ideas, but you can surely hone the ones you already got.

Take breaks. Go for a walk again.

If you face the block, change the project or take a break. If you can not go further, stop. Remember what I said above: go for a quick walk. Once you are back, you will feel the difference. Think about the image of the flanêur. For those who have already read Baudelaire, it will be easy to grasp what I’m trying to communicate.

It is easier to think in motion. When we are moving, we are concerned with going ahead. The art of thinking in movement is about making this concern the only one in our minds. Because of that, our mind is released from any distraction and focuses much better on anything we want to.

A good practice is to plan your breaks and to respect them. Do not skip breaks just because you feel you are on a good day. You will feel the weight later, trust me. Taking planned breaks will also help you get used to your time frame, which brings me to my next topic.

Respect the time frame you set for yourself.

The latter is my version of the classic advice: “do not work too much, or else you will suffer a meltdown.” Everyone that is starting in a creative work line will soon learn the importance of that piece of advice, especially if they are freelancing. Someone probably already told you that, and if so, this person is truly your friend.

When I started, my first struggle was with time management. Nor did I not know when and how much time to work, as I was clueless about how much time I needed to fulfill specific projects. Planning was very hard. If you are in this situation, know that prolonging your working hours will not help to be more efficient in your creative job. It will just stress you more.

Hence, set yourself a time frame and respect that as if it was the law. Give yourself time to get used to this particular time frame before thinking about changing it. Stick to this one for maybe two or three weeks. Then, see if you can work better in a different one.

Do not be alone most of the time. Interact.

Creators tend to think that their geniuses are only their own. As if our creative skill was an individualistic virtue. I tend to disagree because I believe the process of Ideation is the result of our interactions. So, at least for me, creating is not about being isolated and letting your pure spirit work its magic. Not even close.

Due to my experience as a creative writer, I believe creativity is more of a combination of our skills and our interactions. We are not truly alone when we are ideating, meaning that the source is not our inner self. Instead, it is the impact of our interactions on ourselves.

If we are pretending to isolate ourselves to create, then we are cutting a major source of inspiration from our work. It is not a smart move. Creation is a human skill. Be close to humans, and you will be a successful creative professional.

Conclusion

Well, looking back, you probably noted that my tips and tricks to be creative focused more on what is happening with the creator than with the ideas. Do not be surprised. My ultimate advice is not about stimulating your ideas. To be creative, first, you have to focus on your mindset, your environment, and your habits.

If you can control your stress and your concerns, and at the same time being able to be open and curious, you will not face any problem ideating. Interact with your surroundings, take as many notes as you can, respect your time frames, and you will be swimming in the eternal stream.

Thank for reading. I hope you enjoyed my text.

If you did, leave your comments or send me your articles. I’m looking forward to know your perspective on the matter and your own tips on being creative.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store