How To Be Creative

Being creative is easy. Grab a pencil and a piece of paper and have at it. Doodle away. Draw or write whatever comes to mind. Do this for 15 or 20 minutes and you are certifiably creative. Email me your results and I’ll send you a certificate and membership card. 

Now I know what you are going to say: “Hold on a minute Jim! I couldn’t draw a straight line to save my life!” or “All of my novels begin with ‘It was a dark and stormy night…'” or something similar. The problem with this kind of thinking is that you are mistaking being good with being creative. It’s an important distinction to make because you don’t have to be good to be creative. All you need to do is actually make something. Being good can come later.

Get Started Now

So if you really want to create something then just do it. Don’t worry about the right materials, don’t worry about being good. Pretend you’re a kid with a box of crayons (I actually am for the most part, but that’s a different story), sit down for 10 minutes and get that idea out of your head and onto some paper. (Or clay, paint, your hard drive, anything will do really.) Most importantly, don’t sensor yourself! Never erase. This is the death of creativity. Finish what you started and if you don’t like it draw another right next to it. The idea is to let your ideas flow. Killing them early will break that flow.

Various doodles
Doodle until it hurts.

What if you don’t have any ideas? Well, don’t let that stop you. Doodle. Or just start writing whatever comes to mind. Free association. I’ve often found myself endlessly drawing spirals and circles while coming up with ideas. Another thing that never fails for me is drawing a face. Draw a circle, two dots for eyes and a line for a mouth. Who is that person? Where did she come from? What is he doing? Answer these questions and you are half way to a story.

So what if you do suck? What if you draw for 3 hours and end up with a pile of chicken scratch? I have days like that more often than not, but that’s the great thing about working small and cheap. It doesn’t matter. Don’t show it to anyone. The important thing is that you did it. Instead of binge watching Sex and Violence the Series on Huluflicks or playing 6 hours of video games you did it. You created something! I bet your friends can’t say as much.

Make it Happen

Being creative is as simple as putting in the work. Make a habit of setting aside some time each day to make something. Start small and build on it until it’s finished. That’s all there is to it. Have fun creating!

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