Being creative and innovative is often seen as an elusive art. Great ideas are seen as rare butterflies that flutter past unexpectedly, then disappear forever. In truth, creativity and innovation is hard work and needs consistency in how you think and how you manage the results of your thinking.
Research has shown that ideas will bubble up more when you are relaxed. With your brain in neutral as you gaze into the middle distance, your receptive state will generate more ideas. That’s why it helps to prepare the setting beforehand so that embryonic ideas can be captured for later study.
It may seem a contradiction, but you need to be organised and methodical to encourage creativity. Joan Rivers was a great spontaneous comedian but her home was a carefully built archive for categorising and developing jokes and other funny source material. A system will help you capture and develop ideas. Inspiration favours the prepared mind!
Old analogue capture methods are useful. A simple idea scrapbook to jot down a thought or picture will suit some people’s creative temperament. It needs to be easily accessible and available where you work or play. Ideas often arrive unannounced in the middle of the night and need to be captured in a dark bedroom. Keep an LED pen and a notepad by the bed so you can write down thoughts in the dead of night and not disturb your partner.
There are lots of apps that support multiple-media note taking, such as Evernote or GoogleKeep and simpler note taking apps that help you jot down an idea quickly and then add pages from websites or photos from your phone camera. Other apps are useful for connecting your various devices and apps together, such as IfThisThenThat an app that allows you to set up connections between apps such as Instagram and your Dropbox, automatically saving pictures or links between the two.
Pocket is another app that helps you save something you see online on a website or app and keeps it for looking at later when you have more time, useful when you see something that sparks off an idea which needs to be focussed on later.
Another way to shorten the time and distance between the idea and the written recorded word, is to use a dictation app. These useful apps convert speech to text on your smartphone or just record sound and keep as sound-file notes that can be stored or emailed to others. Apps such as Dictadroid and Dragon Anywhere are good example of the sound to text version while the ALON Dictaphone is a good sound recorder. Don’t forget there is a camera on most smartphones and they can quickly capture doodles you’ve written or notes on paper for logging and reviewing later.
The kinaesthetic action of taking what is a transient set of neural connections in your brain and making them into something more concrete, is part of the creative process. The creative process is not just about magic moments of inspiration. It is also about crafting, editing and re-working an idea until it becomes something tangible and useful. The Pixar production team, who made such landmark films as Toy Story and Finding Nemo, say that the early drafts of those films were truly awful and bore little relation to the final film we saw in the cinema. The flash of creative inspiration was there but it took months of iterations and crafting to make them ‘shine’. The most important part of being more creative is to make it a habit. Prime yourself regularly to listen out for the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne muses and put in place systems to capture them when they start singing to you.