How To Unlock Your Creative Self

Great artists, designers, musicians and writers are…ordinary, they come from ordinary families, in ordinary houses, in ordinary towns yet they become extraordinary. Some reasons why they achieve that transformation:

You are what you think you are. The power of our minds is indisputable. Creative people are creative because they believe they are creative and think themselves as creative. Whatever you think you are is what you will be. We must hold enormous faith in ourselves. Successful creative people do so. This self-belief accounts for 90% of the reason why they became the best.

If you can’t find a way, make one. Have inner belief and conviction that shields you from the negativity of others. Refuse to compromise and create the way you want to create. There will be tough times and critics but you have to have confidence and inner belief in yourself to carry you through the difficult times.

Keep going… The creative are persistent. Creativity is a skill that everyone can learn. You need to put in hours of practice. The ideas may come in a flash of illumination, but they need to be refined, analysed and improved exhaustively. To be creative you have to relentlessly develop and improve yourself and your ideas.

It is all up to you. Do not wait for ideal conditions. Work where ever you are and no matter how you feel. Don’t set any conditions.

Live the dream. The mind needs to meander and roam. With freedom it ends up in unusual places, creating new worlds, new ideas, new inventions. Daydreamers created our television programmes, buildings, music, film and books. We live in the dreamer’s world. Be a contributor; not a detractor.

Stop making sense. To live a creative life, you need to be liberated from being sensible. Enjoy doing something for the pleasure of doing it. Not because it is the logical or rational thing to do. The purpose of doing something is the pleasure you get from doing it.

Think in images rather than in words or numbers. Then you will be more creative. Concentrate on forming visual images in your mind; better still draw them.

Give up the day job. Successful creative people dedicate themselves to what they care about most. They don’t give themselves the option of mediocrity or safety. If you have something to fall back on, chances are you will. So whatever it is you most want to do: do it. If you try and fail, at least you tried. If you don’t try you will always wonder what might have been. If you do what you really want, then you will have no regrets. Looking back and thinking, should have, could have or might have, is the saddest thing of all.

Create meaning not product. Focus on producing something worthwhile. Forget about technique or slick effects. Concern yourself with the content and not the technicalities.

Create yourself. The task of the modern man is not to find his inner self, but to invent himself. The relationship we have to ourselves should be creative. We should think of everything we do as an act of creativity. Be your own work of art. Don’t find yourself; invent yourself.

Make failure a stepping stone to success. Failure is a perception, not a fact. Accept failure as part of the refining process and learn from their errors. Failure is a natural part of the creative process.

Begin anywhere. Do not be paralysed by too many choices. Just begin. The most important thing is somehow to begin. No one can go back and make a brand new start, but anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

Create chance, because chance creates. Control and predictability are the enemy of creativity. Open yourself to what is uncertain, unsure and unstable. Build chance into your life and working method. If you take chances, you will lose occasionally. If you don’t take chances you will certainly lose yourself.

Control technology. Keep up to date with technology. Don’t be controlled by technology, pick what is useful to you. Don’t allow technology to overwhelm you – learn to live with it well.

Only do what you are passionate about. Then people will be drawn to your work. Paradoxically, you will achieve more than those driven by worldly ambitions and goals. Money as a goal is an empty ambition. Don’t do anything for wealth or fame.

Join forces and be a force. Link up with someone who provides a counter-balance to your talents. If disorganised, team up with someone who is organised, if introverted then team up with an extrovert; if emotional, find someone who is rational.

At the beginning… put the end. Work needs structure. But the structure can be disorganised. Take the structure of whatever you are working with, dismantle it and rearrange it. Jumbled up, it is likely to be more interesting.

Question everything, everywhere, forever. Many problems arise from making assumptions. Don’t assume. Question everything. Constantly challenge fundamental assumptions and preconceptions. Millions had seen an apple fall. Newton was the one who asked why.

Don’t compete, create. Don’t enter awards or competitions. Compete with yourself. Work to the best of your ability. Judge yourself.

Burst the bubble. Every field has its own perspective on the world. Step outside the bubble of your chosen field and see the world from there.

Be proud to be different. Education forces an individual to behave and think in the patterns society has dictated. go beyond that and think in your own way.

Be unreasonable. Being reasonable and logical are not the characteristics of successful creative people. It is OK to be unreasonable. To solve an exceptional problem, to get people to think in an entirely new way, or to crack an impossible task, you need someone not driven by logic but by emotion, passion and desire. If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would get done.

Don’t hurry time. You must live at the speed that suits you. Don’t force things. To be truly creative you must work at your own pace. Work at the speed that suits you and your project.

Go with the flow. Do not devise a plan and then slavishly follow it. To live creatively you must go with the flow and see what evolves. Listen to the work you are producing and it will tell you how it wants to progress. The creative are sensitive to the work and what it requires. They let the project evolve naturally. The work knows best. Listen to its demands.

Use the wrong tools. To live creatively you have to avoid being predictable. Seek out unpredictable materials because they lead to unpredictable ideas and force you to think differently.

Don’t strive to be original. Think of yourself as the next link in the chain of your chosen field. Simply try to nudge things forwards a little further. It is OK to use another’s work as a starting point. You will enter into your work more and more and the other artist will leave. Don’t worry about being original. You are original. It will reveal itself no matter what you or others do.

Do what you like. Then you will like what you do. The chances are that if you like what you do, others will too. But if you do something because you think it is what you ought to do, or is the clever or sensible thing to do, you will ultimately lose interest and become dissatisfied. You will turn into a cog in someone else’s machine. Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you feel most alive. Then go and do it. What the world needs is people who are invigorated by life. Your work should touch your soul. Whatever it is you most enjoy, make it the basis of your life and work. You will never lose interest in it.

Does a five-year-old understand you? If not, there must be something wrong with your idea. Sum up your idea in a sentence which should be understandable by all.

Stop. Before. The. End. Stop when you think the work has achieved its purpose. Don’t obsess over detail or perfection.

Don’t see barriers that aren’t there. Many limitations and constraints are imagined. We unconsciously assume there are boundaries when there aren’t any. Decide on the course of action. Then do it. If the correct course of action is impossible, then set out to do the impossible.

Be audacious. Courage is necessary to succeed.

Don’t be embarrassed about money. Creativity is part of life and money can’t be separated from life. Don’t pretend the link doesn’t exist – embrace it.

Be an extremist. Examine every aspect of your life and work. Then push them as far as possible. By doing that you break new ground.

Don’t make assumptions based on past knowledge. The creative mind does not assume something to be true until they have proved it themselves. If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance.

Be critical of critics. You need someone who can look at your work and judge it on its terms, not on his or her terms. You need an honest opinion, not an opinion.

Kill your babies. The creative avoid wasting their time. If something isn’t working out, they kill it off and start something new. They don’t get locked into a project.

Be certain of uncertainty. Uncertainty is the only thing that is certain. Embrace this.

Turn everything on its head. Whatever you are doing reverse it. This will help you see things in a new way.

Simplify, then simplify more. Eliminate unnecessary details and distill down. Great creative minds keep things surprisingly simple. Simple is not easy. You have to subtract from your subject, spotlight and narrow down to the necessary.

Find what you are not looking for. Be curious, constantly on the lookout for the unusual. Then you may find something that really interests you.

Be here, now. The successful creative mind focuses totally on the task at hand. Focus your attention into a single beam; don’t let it be diffracted in a thousand directions.

Create your environment. Your workplace should induce the right mood and be enjoyable to produce good creative work.

Do what is important, not urgent.Treat trifles as trifles and important matters as important. Do not spend the best part of the day, when you are fresh, completing chores.

Don’t leave ideas in your head. Weak ink lasts longer than a strong memory. Put your ideas on paper. Take a sketchbook everywhere you go.

Don’t wait for inspiration. Put yourselves in a frame of mind where you work well. Use whatever works for you to create this state of mind.

Don’t be limited by your limits. Creatively think your way out of limitations.

Don’t excuse excuses. Don’t make excuses. Have an attitude that there is always a way.

Don’t postpone the future. Don’t put off doing what is most important to you. Don’t wait till you have enough money, enough time or the perfect home. Do it now, before it’s too late. Only postpone until tomorrow what you are prepared to die having left undone.

Go further than too far. Step outside your comfort zone.

Learn how to learn, rather than just memorize. Constantly explore new ideas and new media.

Use envy as motivation. Look at others’ achievements as motivation. If they can do it, so can you.

Please yourself, not others. Remain true to your own values and ideas.

Plug yourself into an energy supply. Some people can make you feel energized and enlightened, while others make you feel tired, drained or irritated. They are toxic. learn to identify them. Then keep away from them.

Rule your mind or it will rule you. Discipline is essential, but it has to be self-discipline. It must come from within rather than from without. With self-discipline anything is possible.

Set your own standards. Do not compromise due to pressure from outside sources.

Turn fear into fuel. It is natural to feel apprehensive when embarking on a new venture. All creative people feel dread and panic. The difference is that they feed off it. They turn it into a positive force.

Make it happen. if you want something to happen, you will have to make it happen. You can always find a million reasons to put off things. Only action will turn concepts into reality.

 – notes from the book, Change Your Mind by Rod Judkins


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