We all are well familiar with the concept of the artist beseeching his muse and waiting for inspiration to strike so he can release a work of pure genius upon the world.
But if you ask me, the muse has caused a lot more trouble than help for creatives.
When you go from artist to creative professional, deadlines are unforgiving, and clients aren’t so pleased to wait around for a muse to drop by their hired agency. Out here in the real world, we need ways to tap into our creative genius, regardless of where the muse has wandered on a given day.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that it was an advertising executive who identified a systematized process for generating creative ideas—James Webb Young’s “A Technique for Producing Ideas.”
Did you catch that? A systematized approach. Creativity is accessible on demand, by following a series of steps.
We’re all creative geniuses, if we want to be.
Want to unleash your creativity? Here is a summary of Young’s five steps:
1. Gather new material.
2. Thoroughly work over the material in your mind.
3. Step away from the problem.
4. Let your idea return to you.
5. Shape and develop your idea based on feedback.
Of this process, creativity and effectiveness expert James Clear said:
“Understanding this is important because creative thinking is one of the most useful skills you can possess. Nearly every problem you face in work and in life can benefit from creative solutions, lateral thinking, and innovative ideas.”
Nowhere is this more true than in the communications industry.
The creative process can appear magical, and there is something satisfying about allowing ourselves to latch onto this myth. On the one hand, it encourages the idealization of our great creative heroes, from Picasso to Galileo to Shakespeare.
But this myth also lets us off the hook from having to bear the power of our own creativity.
But when you tell yourself you simply aren’t creative, or that inspiration simply hasn’t come to you, you’re holding yourself back. You don’t have to be an artistic legend (or even your office’s creative legend) to come up with incredibly ideas.
You’re already a creative genius. Follow these steps and get to work on your next great idea.
To read more about this process, including an explanation of the steps and examples for each one, check out Clear’s full article.