I’ve been thinking a lot lately about brainstorming and creativity in general. Probably because it’s January, it still gets dark too damn early, and it’s been cold and grey -- all elements that make one hit a creative plateau. Or at least make me hit one.
I’m feeling the need to reboot on many levels, and really want to come at creativity a little differently in this still new year.
It’s well documented that getting out of your comfort zone is a sure way to get you thinking differently. And while I consider myself “a creative” and a welcomer of change, I still have my comfort zones and I feel as though I've gotten, well, too comfortable in them.
One of those cozy spots for me is minimalism. I love minimalist graphic design. I love sparse writing. Even my personality is minimalist — I’m quiet and reflective, and say only what’s needed, nothing more. Look in my closet, and everything is black. And while you will have to pry my black skinny jeans from my cold dead hands, it dawned on me that I should explore the world of maximalism a little more.
No, I won't be swapping my pile of plain black T-shirts for billowy multi-coloured blouses. What are you? A psychopath? What I do want to do is explore the type of writers, painters, and filmmakers I'm not normally drawn to. On top of that, I want to dig deeper and find who's not being included in those canons.
I'm a firm believer in exploring outside of one's lived experience. For the past year or so, I've been reading books only by people of colour. In a similar vein, throughout 2013, Anil Dash consciously spent the entire year RTing only women on Twitter.
While Dash's experiment harks to my previous post re. listening to the marginalized, engaging in this sort of behaviour not only opens your mind to different perspectives, but also breeds creative thinking. Haven't you heard that habit and convention kill creativity?
If you consider yourself a creative, why are you doing the same thing every day? What books and magazines are you most often buying? Switch them up. What movies and TV shows are you most often watching? Bet they centre white male Western/North American ideals. Get out of that box already! If you're a guy, why not read only women for a year, or watch films directed by women? I'm considering pushing my authors-of-colour-only policy to one which includes only women of colour.
Yes, I'm a woman, so how does only reading women push my creative boundaries? Because men are the dominant culture, and when it comes to anything dominated by women, white women come out on top. Hence, I want to explore the experiences of women of colour -- a world I don't know well, even though I have diverse friends, because it's not the world I immediately live in.
If you're a writer, draw. If you're a painter, sculpt. Techie? Spend an afternoon gadget-free. Monolingual? Learn some basics in a new language. Scratch that travel itch, even if your wallet won't allow it -- check out that neighbourhood on the opposite end of town. Get creative with getting creative; that's part of the fun.
As Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire say in Wired to Create, "Creativity benefits from an outsiders' mind-set."