How to be creative…even when you aren’t.
As part of the team that wrote the Spirit of a Forester language in 2019, Nicole is sharing the heart behind each of the seven Forester traits and their practical applications. Today’s trait: Foresters Explore Creativity
“You’re the creative one. I’m not good at this sort of stuff.”
I hear this frequently from clients in my work as a content developer. Since being creative is essential to my professional (and personal) identity, I consider this a compliment.
The flip side to the compliment, however, is my clients’ reluctance to see themselves as creative: “You’re creative. I’m not.” But is that true? Do we have to be only one or the other — totally creative or not creative at all?
Creativity is a part of the Forester identity. So where does that leave people who don’t consider themselves creative?
Take a look at that Forester trait again: “a Forester explores creativity.” We were very intentional about using the verb explores. Whatever your “art” (or career field) may be, you can explore ways of being creative. When it comes to identifying as a Forester, whether you consider yourself naturally creative isn’t the point. The point is that a) you are open to strengthening your creative muscles when you can and b) you are not shutting out opportunities by saying, “But I’m not creative!”
Here are a three ways to explore creativity, even when you don’t feel creative:
Let’s be clear: I’m not proposing plagiarism. However, no project exists completely on its own. Your work is always going to be a response to what people (your friends, your competitors, or even your past self) have done. Lean into that by doing some research when you need to come up with a good idea. What have others done in a similar project situation? What worked for them, and what didn’t? How can you adapt and innovate these ideas to suit your needs? Become a detective snooping around for clues to your next big idea.
Set aside time
After you conduct some research, take time to let it settle in your brain for a bit. Unless your project is on a severe deadline crunch, don’t try to force an idea before it’s ready. Even after starting a project, don’t be afraid to walk away and come back to it later. Fresh perspectives and inventive solutions often take time to develop. If you can prioritize good ideas over speed, go for it. You’ll be surprised what emerges when you set aside time for healthy procrastination.
Start somewhere (not the beginning)
You did your research, let the ideas percolate, and now you’re ready to get this project off the ground. Creatively approach the next part of the process by writing out the middle or even the end of your project first, then working your way backwards. Write your conclusion paragraph first. Determine your metrics goals for Q3 before figuring out how to use Q1 and Q2 to get there. Give yourself five minutes to sketch out a prototype. You likely won’t keep these initial drafts all the way to the finished project, and you should expect many bad ideas on your way to one or two good ones. Just get the ideas out there, then sort through and refine them later. Along the way, you might find unexpected ideas simply because you’re approaching the project out of the typical chronological order.
I’ll let you in on a secret: Sometimes I don’t feel very creative, either. Call it writer’s block, call it burnout, or call it “missing the muse.” Whatever you call it, I get it. During those times, I use methods like these to power through.
I’m not claiming that any of these suggestions are revolutionary. However, a mental lifestyle that incorporates these things is going to promote out-of-the-box thinking, whether you are a painter or a corporate executive, and enable you — a true Forester — to explore creativity.