Planning Creativity (3/4): Make It Simple

Grab a pen and paper…

  1. Write down at the bottom of a page a creative task that you would like to complete. This can be as simple or as complicated as you like; dependent on your field. The simpler the goal, the more steps you will probably find in planning. The more complicated goals probably mean that you have already partially planned.
  2. Next to it write down a reasonable deadline for the goal
  3. Above it, break down the goal into different tasks that will help to complete it (Eg. Does it require research? Does it require specific items? Does it require time? Does it require space?) Think of anything you can.
  4. Next to the tasks, break them down into simpler lists of what needs to be done to complete them.
  5. Assign shorter reasonable deadlines to the items on the lists.

If you gave yourself a reasonable deadline for your goal in the first place, then the amount of time associated with each list item and task should amalgamate together to equate to the required deadline of your goal.

You’re plan is the spark for your creativity.

Now you know exactly what’s to be done and when your creativity can begin to thrive. By taking an item from a list, you can be creative whilst completing that item, and thus complete a task in order to get one step closer to your goal. You may find it surprising how simple it can be to complete.

Personally I find that planning on paper or mentally really aids my process as it’s always good to have an idea of what needs to be done next. Sometimes however we over complicate what we need to do in our heads, and by writing them down it simplifies the act of deciding what needs to be done first or last; or what needs to be done sooner rather than later. Knowing what you are expecting to do will void the introduction of creative block into your dedicated time, and allow you to be playful.

Play with your ideas.

If you have a an item to complete on your list, give yourself time to be playful with it, be the unique-creative-original that you are and make notes as you go along. Don’t ever distract from your current¬†goal. Avoid tangents and save them for a rainy day, as if they’re good enough you will find a new creative spark in continued planning for them at a later date. The aim with planning is to get something finished.

If it Doesn’t Work, Take a Step Back

If it doesn’t seem to work and you have that dreaded feeling of creative block, then take a step back and think about your plan. Maybe the plan was too simple? Was the goal too complicated? Or was the goal too vague? Utilise the time spent fighting creative block to plan further so that you can be even more creative when you come back to it, as doing this may help to spark your creativity again. Write lists about the lists, add tasks to your tasks, and you may find that there’s more that needs to be done in order to get started.

Review Your Plan

Lastly, take note of how in depth your plan needs to feel comfortable getting started. Each plan may be slightly different, but once you have an idea of how much planning you need to do, then you will have a great framework for next time. Knowing this will lead to having a better understanding of your own creative process enabling your workflow and productivity to improve.

Planning Creativity (2/4): Why It’s Important

“…we think that it isn’t as important.”

If you’re like me, life is generally busy, and creativity can often be pushed aside to make way for life. This is common for many people, especially as we grow older. If we haven’t ‘made it’ as a creative in the industry we desire, we think that it isn’t important anymore. However this can become frustrating, and more commonly depressing. I’m of the belief that this should never be allowed to happen as in the world of creativity there is always some form of outlet, and by being a creative we need to creatively find that outlet; or even design it ourselves. We can begin to help ourselves by planning to be creative, and finding our outlet will come when the time is right.

“…it naturally flows into mentally preparing yourself”

The advantage of planning a time to be creative is that it naturally flows into mentally preparing for the practice of being creative. If we plan the time to be creative, then any spare moment leading to that time can be spent thinking about how we might use it; and how to use it wisely. This could be as simple as deciding beforehand where you might practice your creativity, what sort of space you might like to surround you, what you might like to use, or how long it’s going to take to achieve a specific task in your chosen creative process.

“If we were to sit down to write a book, is there any point in beginning to write until we know what we’re meant to write about?”

Knowing the moment that we are planning to be creative aids us to prevent any subconscious temptation of a ‘creative block’ in our planned time…

Poor planning + No available time + A lack of discipline = Creative Block

A creative block comes when we sit down to work and we haven’t actually planned what work we are sitting down to do. We may have allowed the time, but if we were to sit down to write a book, is there any point in beginning to write until we know what we’re meant to write about? Or perhaps even to ask what we’re writing with? Something as simple as trying to find the correct tool to be creative with can invite the excuse of creative block into our domain, and again¬† this returns to the importance of needing to plan.

“…planning comes in the form of simplifying our process of being creative in order to allow us to be playful.”

Planning creativity is simply planning to do something, and that something will inevitably be something creative, but the importance of planning comes in the form of simplifying our process of being creative in order to allow us to be playful. The term ‘playful’ is used by many successful creatives, as it refers to the childlike joy that we feel whilst being creative. The joy of discovery, the joy of brilliance in our work, the joy and sense of pride in our creation and accomplishments. If we don’t give time to planing our creativity, this playfulness can become more difficult achieve and can result in being replaced with a continuing sense of frustration; which can lead to a deeper sense of depression.

“Invite the childlike joy into your creative time, and play.”

It’s important to feel excited about our work, and to be excited to be creative, as in essence this is the feeling that can get you out of bed in the morning. This is the feeling that encourages the element of playfulness that needs to be introduced into our creative time. Invite the childlike joy into your creative time, and play. Plan, simplify your process, demystify it, never use the excuse of creative block, and simply be creative.