Everyone wants to be creative these days, we want to learn it, practice it, hear it, see it, eat it, shovel it into our procrastinating faces in the hope that it might just stop us from feeling like we want to leap off the nearest tall building and splat into a creative expression of personal suffering beautifully represented in the the way our miserable guts leak into the cracks of the indifferent cold grey pavement while the world just walks on by…as usual.
Whatever we do, wherever we work, learn, rest or play, we are presented with malignant mantras of creativity “think outside the box” and “blue sky thinking”. These ludicrously open and empty expressions loom over us like intangible ghosts creating nothing but fear, leaving us to cower paralysed by a world of infinite choice.
A: Think outside the box
Creativity isn’t just about thinking imaginatively, having ideas, it’s about taking those spectre like thoughts and making them tangible. Putting ideas into use.
We all scream “FREEDOM” in our best Brave Heart – Gibsonese but actually as the myth man in the sky tells us “we are all his children” and as these adult children come beasts, the best of us still need guidance and the worst still need telling what to do.
God: No problem, go forth and prosper
Man: Erm…what should I do?
No matter what the reason we hold ourselves back we largely need to “get over ourselves” the best way to do this is to take ourselves out of the picture completely.
I cant, I’m not good enough
I don’t have the time
It must be perfect
The fish will eat me
Blah blah blah
Some common sense and creative heresy might help.
Creative Tidbit #01 – Creative Productivity – THINK INSIDE THE BOX!
Simply create a box of limitations, rules and restrictions. This can be a literal or metaphorical box.
At the start of any project write down/think of the “ingredients” you have to chose from. Most projects will involve some of these…
TIME – MONEY – MATERIALS – THEMES – PEOPLE – TOOLS – RESOURCES
but its your list and your art form so do as you please or what is relevant.
Example Ingredient Box for writing a scene of a play.
WRITING TIME – 15 mins, 2o mins, 30 mins, 60 mins, 90 mins
CHARACTERS – 2 people, 3 people, Father and Daughter, a Priest a Confessor and a Stranger
LENGTH – 10 lines, 30 lines, 50 lines, 100 lines, 10 lines per character
THEME – Love, Lust, Betrayal, Death, Loss
Once all those things are inside your “box” “hat” or “head” just pick some out at random and do.
This technique can be used for anything and is particularly good at generating “HAPPY ACCIDENTS” – moments of absolute brilliance that appear accidentally that even you as the creator can marvel at.
This technique is also great for teachers.
It allows students to create freely and quickly as groups or individuals, limits disagreements and gives focus. It allows you to facilitate or direct their creation through the list of restrictions you offer and combats any sort of self conciousness in failure.
Employing techniques of active restriction can be the best stimulus for creative output. It allows us freedom to deny responsibility for our output, it narrows the options, we all freeze and procrastinate in the face of too many choices or the risk of failure.
Of course you don’t have to create a “box” you could roll a die and make the numbers correlate to a list of restrictions or if you really need to “curate” a little more, use what’s in your head or heart or gut or whatever we artistic folk like to say but it must be a list of limitations and you must stick to it and do.
This technique is particularly useful for those stuck in a project or at the beginning of one. It is also excellent for generating lots of tangible material very quickly.
You might not create genius but neither will trying to, so just create, you’ll have a better chance and you will be far more likely to surprise yourself.
1. If you like what you create you can always develop, refine and finesse it.
2. If you hate everything, at least you have developed the skill of responding creatively, quickly and productively.
3. Loads of stuff you can give away, share or use.
Rule 1 – 3 Colours
Rule 2 – 1 Texture
Rule 3 – 1 Font
Rule 4 – Colours, texture, and font all taken from what you can see on your desk right now.
Rule 5 – 30 minute limit
1. Guitar and Violin
2. One instrument limited to 6 notes
3. Composition ends on 6th note of limited instrument
4. Its a conversation
1. 10 lines
2. 11 syllables per line
4. Genuine real life memory of orange
1. Theme of Pairs
2. 10 lines
3. Famous People
4. They must touch only once
5. 5 minute devising time – then show it.
1. Someone must always be physically in contact with another person
2. At some point everyone must be in “slow motion”
3. At some point footwork must be the focus
4. 15 Minutes to devise/create
5. A moment of absolute stillness.
Of course this can also be used for things which aren’t necessarily directly artistic and are more focused around creative problem solving.
Problem - You want to create a festival
As soon as you know this there are a million options, write as many down as possible, put them in a hat (yes we all have hats) draw them out in groups of five, suddenly you will have a number of completely different festivals.
You might not use any of them but you will be clearer about what you want to create and what you care about, or you might find a surprisingly brilliant unique festival out of the list of restrictions you unknowingly picked.
Some good things to write down to put in your hat come under some large themes.
Budget – £00, £500, £5000, £10000, £50000
Art-form – Theatre, Dance, Music, Poetry, Design
Venue – House, Street, Park, Stadium, City, On-line
Global Issues – Sustainability, Economic Equality, Global Power
This could produce an On-line festival of Chinese poetry on £00. Maybe not ideal but an interesting thought none the less and one maybe we wouldn’t have actually had without removing ourselves from the process.
Thanks for reading
(I’ve used these techniques with many people and only share stuff I’ve tried and seen work. This technique has always helped those who’ve tried it. If you have any questions on this subject or if you’re in need of some help or advice get in touch)
Category: Inspiration and Provocation