How to activate your creativity
Do any of you remember how people in creative departments used to work in the so-called good old days? (And I don’t mean the drinking and smoking from Mad Men). In former times creation meant something… active.
How creatives used to... create
Creatives were engaged in drawing, cutting, gluing, up and down and on and off their chairs. Maybe they walked around the city with a pen and sketchbook in search of inspiration, or visited a library, or took a trip to a place that was known for having a particular perspective that would be perfect to illustrate their idea.
In short - creatives had to move much more than they do today!
You might argue that you are very active and you do go out in search of inspiration. I’m sure you do. But it’s undeniably true that today we can create and exchange ideas without needing to move more than one metre from our desks.
In fact, we often stay put in our chairs. While I was working for Miami Ad School Amsterdam, I often entered a room full of creative, inspiring, original and fun young people and only saw heads plugged with earphones, eyes staring fixedly at laptop screens and fingers moving from time to time over keyboards (the most physical action visible).
Common "traps" today
Even though I am grateful for technical innovations and their benefits, there are traps in constantly using them and forgetting the old-fashioned ways of creating advertising. So, what are these traps, then?
› Sedentary life
We all know that a sedentary lifestyle is associated with a higher risk of chronic diseases, including coronary disorders and type II diabetes.
Also, prolonged static posture or repetitive low intensity movements can lead to development of musculoskeletal disorders (in the neck and shoulders), as well as strain injuries, like writer’s cramp, or lower back pains from not sitting ergonomically.
But let’s stay away from the gloomy afflictions and look at something more uplifting.
› No time to play
Playtime is a very important part of the creative process. Remember how much fun it was to stick your feet in the mud or cover your hands in paint?
John Cleese introduced a theory on how to approach a creative task. He said that we need to operate in two modes: open and closed.
Open mode is playtime, where you plunge into the unrestricted experiment phase, letting your imagination go completely wild, unafraid of making mistakes because there are none to be made at that moment.
We explore options, make unusual connections and finally, when we think we have the solution, we switch into the closed mode, where we focus with the precision required during the implementation phase.
During playtime, however, it is the unknown and unpredictable combination of sights, sounds and movements that will help us make the creative connections.
› Lack of physical activity
Staying healthy and playing is not the whole story. According to some scientists, physical activity can boost creativity.
How? Well, apparently any aerobic exercise at least 30 minutes long can improve all the dimensions of cognitive abilities.
Putting it simply, all sorts of thinking, including creative, gets better if we engage in a physical activity.
Other studies show that physical activity is linked to a lower sensitivity to stress, anger, neuroticism and depression, which helps us to deal with an ever-increasing number of briefs and "constructive" feedback from clients.
A piece of advice
So to get back in touch with your creative essence and improve your creative output, I suggest you go back every so often to what nature provided us with: a body to move and a mind to think with, both in a nicely balanced way.