Today’s topic is about being more creative. But first, let me share a story about my creative journey.
Although I’ve been designing graphics and websites for over 10 years, after college my career path led me into day job as strictly a web developer.
This is not what I want — I feel most comfortable when I’m working on projects that combine design and development (and other skills, which is why I’ve started my own business).
But, over the years I settled and just adjusted to the corporate grind. As I became more frustrated and bored with my job, my creativity suffered.
I was uninspired to design and apathetic to things that I used to love so much.
Considering the fact that I have a business and a blog that require me to be creative, something had to give. And since I have to keep my day job (at least for now), I had to figure out a way to get my creativity back.
Today, I finally feel like I’m getting my confidence back as a designer. How did I do it?
These are some simple steps I took that have really helped me rediscover my creativity.
Be a creative
This sounds really corny, but labeling myself as a creative really helped. I’ve always been hesitant to call myself a “creative.” I didn’t feel like I was cool enough or good enough to deserve that label. I’m not a hipster or a design snob, I don’t drink coffee (although I love Frappuccinos!) and I don’t prefer a Mac over a PC (I use both). But that doesn’t mean that I’m not a creative. Someone who does creative things is a creative. The more you say it, the more you’ll believe it.
Do more creative things
Simple, right? And yet, at one point I found myself working on zero creative projects and wondering why I didn’t feel very creative.
This is how it happened: there was a time when I decided I wasn’t a very creative person, so I stopped doing creative things (I stopped taking on client work and didn’t really have any personal projects going on). I didn’t do it on purpose, it just kinda happened. I went from designing something every day to never really designing anything. It took some time, but I realized that I will never be more creative if I never even try.
I read somewhere that creativity can be learned (or in my case re-learned); you just have to practice. The way you practice is by doing — designing graphics, trying DIY projects, painting, drawing, lettering, or whatever. Maybe all of the above. Just don’t stop creating!
Over the past year, I’ve been reorganizing my life and business — and the more organized I get, the clearer my vision becomes. It’s really hard to focus when your desk is messy and you can’t find files on your computer and your office is filled with junk.
If you can function that way, more power to you. But I know that I am much more creative without the clutter.
Write more stuff
I’ve noticed over the years that the more I write, the more ideas I get and the more I learn to express myself. This can be any type of writing — blogging, writing a book, or even journaling. Evernote makes it so easy to keep all of my writing organized in one place.
Read more fiction books
Reading blogs, articles, and non-fiction books is great, but I think we should all read more fiction books.
I’ve been reading more fiction books lately, and it’s amazing how much it opens my mind. I was really into reading fiction books as a kid, but I fell out of it in high school and college. Now I’m back to reading again and the stories really do inspire my work.
Make everything beautiful
Strive to make everything around you beautiful. Some ideas: Add your personal style to your workspace or office, rearrange your bookshelves, or redesign your blog. Makeover your closet, get rid of junk that you don’t need, or hang some new artwork.
Just do whatever you can to organize, beautify, and simplify your life, and it will start to show in your work.
Find inspiration wherever you can! Above, I mentioned reading and writing as some of my inspirations. I’m also inspired by movies, tv and music, colors and patterns from my favorite clothing brands, and photography.
Sharpen your skills
It doesn’t matter how awesome you are — there is always something you could learn or improve on. Taking courses and studying books and tutorials are great ways to build creative confidence.
All of these things have helped me so much. Sure, there are still times when I lose confidence or fall into a weird creative block, but now I’m always able to get back on track.