Now that the typologies and qualifications are out of the way, I’d like to share a bit more on the more technical aspects of how to “just begin”. If you did read this post already, you’d probably guess that the next few tips apply best to amateurs (which is not a dirty term anyway – amateurs still ought to produce high quality work even if it isn’t critical to their livelihood)! And you’re probably right. If you are a professional, do answer the three important questions first before you simply “begin” – there are costs to everything.
But if you’ve already qualified yourself, or if you’re embarking on an amateur-type exploration spree, then it may do you good to try out the following jump-starting tricks that will get your creative juices flowing!
1) the One Hour
Dedicate one hour to your exploration and craft. Make sure that there’s no distraction that’ll get in your way – clear your urgent tasks, turn off your social media feeds, and have enough brainfuel (tasty, healthy food, yum) nearby. You don’t want to disrupt this precious hour!
Chances are, during the first 10 minutes or so, you’ll need time to get into that frame of mind necessary to get stuff going. Especially if you’re not yet warmed up, sliding into gear might take a while longer. So give yourself space – don’t be worried if nothing (good) gets produced at this point in time. Relieve yourself of any unnecessary pressure. Even if you get nothing out of this hour, you did spend time on it.
Slowly, as you get into the groove of things, you’ll realize that the empty hour tends to fill itself up. Are you a writer? The blank pages draw out words from your soul. Are you an artist? The canvas begs for colour. Drafting a business plan? The void will soon find its own organization. This is the natural tendency of empty spaces – they get filled. The key is to not pressure yourself but be open to inspiration. But perhaps results are something you’re after. Try adding the next method together with this one for a potentially explosive creativity session!
Replace the bits in the square brackets with a period of time: 10 minutes? 10 seconds? It’s up to you. During this period of time, the rule is that you cannot leave the space empty. Fill it up with something, anything. While the previous method emphasized on dedicating time without the pressure, this method manufactures pressure within a short chunk of time. A little bit of stress is always necessary to get things going, so feel free to crank things up a notch.
If you’re combining trick 1 and 2, you can try doing multiple intervals of 0-[timechunks] to give yourself oscillating periods of engagement coupled with alternating periods of un-pressured focus. During the short bursts of pressure, you may find yourself producing a body of work. The subsequent pressure-less moments will then be perfect for you to turn loose your relaxed, intuitive mind upon that spurt of creation; you can organize it within a workable framework, touch it up and make it pretty, or find a way to branch into another area of exploration. The possibilities are truly endless, the hour will pass quickly, and you’ll soon wish for more time to lose yourself in exploration.
3) Chaos Theory
Do you find yourself dismissing ideas even before they get put on paper, aborting fledgling sparks of inspiration before they take root, or just being harshly critical of your preliminary work? That could be a good sign – you probably have high enough standards to not be satisfied with subpar “nonsense”.
But in the early stages of creation, these bits of “nonsense” may be all you have to work with! A good idea is to be realistic and take ideas as they come. Tame the inner critique for awhile: assure it that one day, you just might live up to its standards – that’s if you give your infant of an idea a chance to grow up a bit in the first place!
This third trick is more of a break on your self-censoring tendencies than an active method. Sometimes, to unlearn is as important as to learn! In this case, we need to unlearn our tendency to put our first sparks of inspiration down, something that all creative explorers encounter in their pursuits sooner or later.
So for the next thing you produce, promise yourself not to trash it. Go wild with the idea, develop it as far as you can, and soon enough you may just find a gem. What if you don’t get an idea? Well, simply draw from a number of influences around you and start. Feeling grumpy? Write about it. Find the neighbour’s party annoying? Do a piece of art on it. See a number of sparrows taking flight outside? The next best seller may start with a portrayal of that scene.
Or it may not.
But hey, you finally got started!