It’s is a coveted but often underappreciated human ability.
Everyone wants it because creativity can offer a business a lot of value through fresh new ideas and innovation. Therefore, it needs to be encouraged, nurtured and managed well.
Even more importantly, professionals who sell their creative services, such as Copywriters, Marketers, Designers, Builders and Illustrators, need to realise (more than anyone) that we must treat our gift with respect and give it a break, or we risk driving it into the ground.
I experienced this firsthand myself recently.
Here’s what I discovered and what to do to get your spark back.
This is a shame, because with AI, machine learning and Automation entering the commercial world today, creativity really is the final frontier for businesses across every industry.
It’s a precious resource that can generate innovation and differentiation – essential elements towards greater success and profitability. The problem is, I think we can all take it for granted; especially professional Creatives ourselves.
We’re probably the worst to blame!
Is anyone else guilty of this? I can put my hand up.
I’ve been running Melotti Media Copywriting and Marketing Solutions for years now, and my latest two have been both my most successful and my most challenging at the same time. There have been long hours and difficult projects, but I have been equally rewarded with very happy clients, awards and humbling achievements beyond my wildest dreams.
That’s all great….
But, what’s the point?
I can see all of the Creatives nodding their heads. “We’ve all been there.”
I forgot that I was only human. I’m sure I’m not alone too. I forgot the value of RnR – some good old rest and relaxation. For professionals who sell their creativity as a service, in whatever form, we need to remember that downtime is just as important as on-time.
That’s not to say that everyone doesn’t need a holiday, but I’m talking specifically about the ability to be creative. We frequently expect our creativity to just flow, and we pump away at it every day as if it were an unlimited resource (guilty!) – but this isn’t always that case, as I discovered recently.
I suddenly found that my well had dried up.
I was stuck and was struggling with what had come so easily to me only months before. Why was I suddenly feeling this way? Of course, that then made me anxious and I found myself with an odd sense of imposter syndrome too. How could I do what I do, if I was stuck in a bit of a rut?
Yes! How raw is this?!
My point is, creativity needs a recharge
Balance is the key.
You need to get out and change environments, get in amongst foreign experiences and breathe some fresh air. We need to stop taking our precious creative ability for granted, otherwise we can’t expect others to appreciate it either.
So what do we need to do to recharge our creativity?
I watched a TedTalk recently by Allan Ting, where he said we can get a better appreciation of the idea of recharging to avoid burn out from our Smartphones:
- When our internal battery is running high at around 100%, we are productive and at our full capability. Our best work comes here.
- When we are getting lower, in the range of 50%, we need to do a quick recharge, such as some breathing or taking a break, to give us a quick boost back up above 80% again.
- Then, when we are at 20% or below, we need to sleep all night “on the charger” to get back to 100%.
- However, that’s not all. Most importantly, your phone needs a software upgrade every few weeks or months for a complete rebuild of the foundations. He likened this to a proper holiday.
I couldn’t agree more with all of this… now! I think I wasn’t taking the later points too seriously and as a result, I had an internal battery that needed a serious upgrade.
How do I recharge my creativity?
Building on the above Smartphone analogy, here are some tips and tricks I found work really well to recharge the creative batteries.
When you’re at 100%:
- You’re good to go! But, even at your height of creative capacity, I have found that it’s best not to rush. Don’t overbook yourself with too many jobs because that’s a one-way ticket to the burn out zone.
If you want to do your best work, give yourself the time to be creative.
Sure, moderate pressure is helpful to motivate yourself, however you’ll know when you’re doing good work and when you’re “pumping things out.”
When you’re in the mid-range, you need something to give you a quick boost:
- Try switching your focus. Sometimes, a change of topic or job can shift things up and cause a snowball effect.
- Go for a walk and take in some fresh air. I’ve found that taking the dog for a walk in the morning and night every day is the perfect activity I need to take a quick breather.
- Mindfulness. You may have heard this, and it’s synonymous with practises like Yoga. Deep, regular breathing helps calm the fight or flight mechanism in our brains and allows you to regain focus.
- Sleep! Yes, we all know it, but do we do it? Listen to your body. You’re not going to be at your optimal level and think outside of the square when you’re barely keeping your eyes open.
Software upgrade time!
The time has come for a complete overhaul. You need to get out and live a little. Your creativity needs some experiences to feed it, so take the time to do just this:
- You need a vacation! I’ve heard many Psychologists suggest 5 days every 3 months is a good guide.
Why? Because fresh environments and new experiences feed creativity. You probably also need to see the bigger picture too. When you’re working in your little office or cubicle, day after day, you can believe that the world revolves around that space. This can cause a bit of myopia in how big the world actually is.
You’ll benefit from seeing how other people from different backgrounds, cultures and countries operate. This will snap you out of it and open a new world for you.
- Take up a hobby. You’ll be surprised, but this can really do wonders for a change of pace. Pick something that will boost your endorphins and you will actually look forward to doing. For example, I took up tap dancing to get my body moving, relieve some pressure and meet new people.
What have you always wanted to do, but you’re holding yourself back due to the same excuse over and over: “I can’t, I have to work.”
More balance will really help.
What about you?
Just don’t forget to list to your body and your mind. It may be trying to tell you something.
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