The Creative Process for Creatives Can Get Pretty Creative

Whoever says being creative is a natural process is pretty much lying. Creativity takes lots of energy, guts, emotions, and work.

I’m one of the lucky few. I’m paid to be creative. When that happens and I don’t feel like I’m being creative enough, pandemonium ensues. (It’s all inside of my head at least. See “guilt” post for reference.)

Creativity Is The Opposite Of Routine

The paychecks, although whole-heartedly welcome, doesn’t necessarily validate the creative inside of me. I see it as more of a challenge.

The more projects I book, the more I see them as hurdles I must overcome for my clients. Some questions that race through my mind are:

  • What can I bring to the table that hasn’t been thought of before?
  • How can I message this campaign better so that it reaches their target psychographic?
  • How will I be able to package the visuals so that their constituents can relate?

Sometimes I end up going dark, a.k.a. out of reach, for my clients because I am in the creative zone. That’s more often than not. It sounds cliché but in order for me to get creative I have to feel a spark. I have to find my inspiration and that takes a little bit of effort. Sometimes I have to change my environment; sometimes I have to listen to new music; sometimes I have to do something absolutely unrelated. (I think if I were a little more upfront about this painful point in my process, my clients would be happier, so I will put that one on my to-do list for future projects.) Routine is absolutely essential for some aspects of my work, but if I let my day be run by the clock, I run myself into the ground. It’s a pretty simple equation.

For me, the creative process is never routine. Being creative is being okay with flux and constant change, waning motivation and strokes of genius. Creativity takes place between my ears before it takes place on my sketchpad and lastly on my screen. It should for you too.

Here are some crazy things I’ve done to spark creativity:

  • Drank in strange, new bars with my sketchbook
  • Hopped on a Greyhound to travel to another city
  • Rode on the train with no intention of going anywhere
  • Blogged
  • Drove to the beach at 2am
  • Sketched in an video game arcade
  • Sat down at a 24-hr coffee shop and perused books
  • Sunbathed on the beach
  • Went to an event that I didn’t want to attend
  • Called a friend to ask them for advice
  • Tried a new coffee shop
  • Drove to a beach a few hours away to sit at the lifeguard station during sunset
  • Peruse other designers’ blogs
  • Sink my teeth into another project
  • Clean. Oh my have I cleaned…
  • Worked in another medium (photo and illustration)

What’s your creative process like?

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