Creating is part of human nature.
Whether it’s simple tools or works of art, man has always felt the need to transform the world around him, using materials and creating tools that allow you to manipulate them. But creating is much more than the physical act of transforming materials. Even dancing, cooking, cross stitching, and many other activities can be considered creative processes.
When we feel the urge to create something, we are giving the world a part of ourselves, we are taking our ideas, our feelings, our experiences, and we are channeling them into something.
We are giving the world something that did not exist before, and this makes us creators.
Each of us has something to give to the world, but it is not always a simple process. On the one hand, creativity allows us to give free rein to a part of us, it makes us strong. On the other hand, however, it lays us bare, makes us expose our vulnerability and our insecurities.
Creating is a way to share our stories with those around us, and it is what makes us unique. It has allowed us to gather in community, to evolve as a species, and to form the knowledge we have of the world around us. Simply put, it is the key to our survival.
Overcome inertia and start the creative process
For many people, the most difficult part of tackling a creative project is the beginning. Unfortunately, however, there is no universal solution: it depends on what we want to create. The materials, spaces, tools to be used vary according to what we decide to create.
A carpenter will need a workshop, wood to transform, tools to use, drawings to follow. A writer, on the other hand, can start anywhere, with a simple sheet of paper and a pen. Each art has its own rules, which determine what the starting point is.
In most cases, however, the real question that blocks us is another: how to start when we have no idea what to create. In this case, it is not a practical matter, but a mental one. Just as a force that acts on an object is needed to make it move, we also need a push to take the first steps, to overcome indecision and inactivity, and to start our creative process.
The key to the creative process is the identification of our passions, the things that obsess us, which we cannot do without. They are an integral part of our person, and tell others who we are. Perhaps for this reason, many tend to put them aside, to concentrate their efforts on something else.
How to use the lists in our favor
For many of us, the idea of starting a new project by creating a to-do list may seem like a waste of time, almost a nuisance. As soon as we decide to embark on a new adventure, we are often dragged by the desire to start, to get our hands dirty, and sitting down with pen and paper to plan our steps is the last thing we would like to do.
A list of things to do, accompanied by check boxes, seems to be light years away from the creative impulse that we would like to follow, we almost feel it as a weight, something that slows us down.
Still, a list can be a fundamental tool to accompany us on the path of creativity, it all depends on how we decide to use them. If we learn to use a list as a creative tool, it will allow us to have a clear and detailed picture of what we will have to do, and this can allow us to devote all our attention to what we are doing at work.
Another aspect that we must consider is that a list can help us keep track of our progress, enhancing the impact of what we have done, even when this is not immediately apparent to us.
But the lists are not only used to outline the phases of a project. They can also come in handy during the different phases of our work. We can create lists of tools to use, materials to organize, people to contact. When, inevitably, we run into an unexpected problem, a list can help us find the best of the solutions that come to mind.
Everyone will inevitably develop their own way of using lists, the important thing is that they become a tool that helps us to get closer, one step at a time, to our final result.
It is important to know how to set aside a project
Creative work differs from other types of projects in that it requires particular conditions in order to be carried out. Dedicating to different projects simultaneously, as often happens, means having to decide where to concentrate our forces at that particular moment.
This means that, almost certainly, we will find ourselves in the situation of having to decide to set aside, for some time, what we are working on, to resume it later.
This period could last a few days, or several months. Whatever the duration, it is important that, when the time has come to take the project in hand, we are able to have a clear picture, knowing exactly where we had arrived before the interruption.
Deadlines can help us stay focused
We do not always manage our time well, especially if we dedicate ourselves to unique projects, which do not have an already established and tested structure. When we have to dedicate ourselves to a project, we often make a mistake in estimating the time available: we believe we have plenty of it, or we convince ourselves that we don’t have enough.
One way to deal with this is to set deadlines. As with lists, deadlines may initially appear as an impediment to the creative process, because they do not leave us that freedom which we believe is possible only in a regime of total freedom.
But deadlines are not to be seen as limitations. On the contrary, a well-planned deadline allows us to focus all our attention on what we have to do, without letting procrastination, perfectionism, and other similar excuses distract us from what we have to do.
How many times do we convince ourselves that we do not have all the necessary tools to get started, or do we tell ourselves that, if we postpone delivery for a week, then everything will be perfect? This type of mentality is counterproductive, because it does nothing but give us an excuse for not working. Deadlines are the best solution.
Of course, the idea of self-imposing deadlines may seem difficult and unpleasant, but when we have finished a project, or a task, within the established limits, we will be able to fully appreciate their usefulness.
The most important thing is to find “our” way of working
Depending on the project we are working on, in the application sector, there will be different tools and materials that we will have to learn about.
Materials are what we transform, divide, bind, modify, to obtain the final result. The difference between a piece of wood and a piece of iron should be obvious to everyone, but the differences between the types of wood are much more subtle, and learning about these characteristics will inevitably lead us to a better selection of material with which to work.
Another fundamental element of the creative process are the tools, or work tools that allow us to manipulate the materials to obtain the desired effect. Some tools, such as a hammer, can have a fairly immediate use, while others can have more complex applications.
Furthermore, for each type of instrument there are a multitude of different brands, models and types. It is difficult to imagine that there is only one type of hammer in a blacksmith’s workshop. There will be a heavier one, a lighter one, one with a larger tip, one coated with material to cushion the blows and not damage the material.
Whether it’s material or tools, we will hardly choose the right one on the first try. Often and willingly, we will have to try several, test them, evaluate their effectiveness, and finally, decide whether they are suitable for our needs.
The way we organize our tools and materials is also important, and it will be very different for each of us. For some, materials and tools must be organized in well-labeled drawers, which allow us to keep the work area free, but at the same time to find the necessary tool immediately.
For others, the best solution is to always have a specific tool at hand. This means having several “copies” of the same tool at different points in your work shop, in order to minimize the time taken to recover a tool.
There are undoubtedly dozens of other possible solutions and approaches. What matters is not necessarily adapting to someone else’s way of working, but finding something that works for us, which allows us to work well, focusing all our resources on the final result.
Share your experiences and knowledge
There are two types of people in the world:
- Those who believe in the power of sharing
- Those who choose to hold onto their secrets.
Obviously this is a very complex issue, which varies according to the sector in which we operate.
In the creative field, however, it is important to understand the role that experiences, and the knowledge that derive from them, have in the general picture. Throughout human history, knowledge has been a fundamental element for progress. If each of us were to face life without being able to draw on the vastness of information that derives from the experiences of those who existed before us, we would be in trouble.
Anyone who undertakes a career that has a creative component will, over time, learn to use techniques and tools that have been designed, tested, perfected by others. This knowledge is a fundamental part of what we are going to do, and it is important to understand the value of sharing.
For many, the idea of not only giving access, but encouraging others to tap into what we ourselves have discovered, or a process we have developed, seems absurd. It would be like giving someone a solution that has cost us dearly, in terms of effort. For many, this is comparable to an economic loss. Yet by sharing what we have discovered, what we love, what we want to do, we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we are giving something to the whole world.
The final decision obviously remains ours, it is a matter of choosing whether we want to contribute to making the world a better place, or keeping everything for ourselves, ignoring everything that others have shared with us, and which has allowed us to get where we are.