I think you can define being creative as having ideas. Everyone has ideas. Therefore everyone is creative.
It seems to have become commonly accepted that creativity is something that a handful of people are good at and everyone else isn’t. It’s a complete fallacy. Everyone and their mother can be creative if they want to.
David Kelley puts it perfectly in his TED talk. He wants everyone to stop dividing the world in to creatives and non-creatives. It’s easy to decide you’re not creative if someone criticises you for an idea; To take it as an excuse to opt out of being a creative. Don’t let them put your creativity down!
'Content is King' is a phrase that's almost becoming as cliche as 'think outside the box'. But in this talk from Jonathan Perelman at the 99u Conference, he makes the point that although content is king, distribution is Queen.
““You’ve got to understand that great content is the base, but beyond that understand the distribution channels. What works on Pintrest does not work on Facebook.”
And he couldn’t be more right. As everyone realises that they need to be on ‘social’ people are just pushing out the same stuff on all channels. But it doesn’t work.
Think about how people interact with certain channels - people are more likely to click a link on FB and read it, but are more likely to enter in to a conversation on Twitter - and customise your content for that channel.
Over the last year I’ve been reading a lot about Creativity, trying to understand it more.
One thing I’ve learnt - I think it was Hugh Garry that first made the point to me - is that stealing ideas is a good thing. Don’t be scared to take someone else’s idea and twist it in to a new one. No idea is really truly original - it’s you taking your knowledge of what has gone before and using that to create something new.
I found this Ted Blog post by Seth Godin recently that talks about just this concept. In it he points out that ideas don’t get smaller when shared - they get bigger. (Just make sure you credit people who you took the original idea from!)
It always amazes me how many pre-roll ads on YouTube spend the 10 seconds before you can press skip showing you a logo or just playing some intro music. You have 10 seconds to grab the viewer’s attention. Use it!
Watching the above video made me think of this recently. It’s Gary Vaynerchuk (best-selling author and founder of VaynerMedia) giving at talk at a 99u conference recently. The talk was called ‘stop storytelling like it’s 2007’.
He makes some very good points about delivering content to the people you want to talk to. We live in an ADD age - you need to grab people’s attention in seconds. And more importantly, Context is king, not content; Don’t post the same content to every platform! Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr… they’re all very different beasts!
And also, don’t just ask, ask, ask from your audience. You’ve got to give, give, give, give, give, then ask! Give people funny, engaging stuff the majority of the time, and then ask for their attention the minority of the time.
This video from Pomplemoose is really impressive. It’s a mash-up of Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ with Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’, which is well done in itself. But the video is the mind-blower. It’s one shot, using just a projector some white bard and a woman’s top.
I’d highly recommend the class for anyone who works in a creative industry. It was half a day spent in a room with about 25 other creative people from all walks of life, chatting about what makes for great creativity.
And if you want to know why I picked those people:
Mark Zuckerberg, for his drive & determination.
Jad Abumrad (the presenter of RadioLab) for his creativity and doing things differently.
Postman Pat because he’s up early and cheery every day
John Steinbck because of his wisdom and his amazing insight into life and the human condition.
A really great (portion of a) lecture from John Cleese on creativity. I’ll admit that I spent the whole time waiting for the punchline, but once you get past that it’s very interesting & insightful.
The main lesson from this talk is that you need 5 things to help creativity:
“You can’t become playful, and therefore creative, if you’re under your usual pressures. You need to stop your usual life and set aside time to do this. In your usual life you are in ‘closed’ mode. You need to stop everything else to allow yourself to be in ‘open’ mode.
“It’s not enough to create space; you have to create your space for a specific period of time.” Cleese recommends 1.5 hour chunks to time. Longer, and you’ll need a break. Shorter & you’ll have only just got going.
3. Time (again)
"Giving your mind as long as possible to come up with something original,” Learn to tolerate the discomfort of pondering time. Don’t just take the first idea that comes in to your head. Spend more time pondering it.
Tolerate indecision. Play with the problem for longer before you try and resolve it.
Before you take a decision, ask yourself the question - when does this decision need to be taken? Then ponder it until you get to that time. Why make the decision before it is necessary?
4. Confidence “Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.”
You are playing… You are experimenting… You need to just try things out & see what happens. “While you’re being creative, nothing is wrong”
5. Humour “The main evolutionary significance of humour is that it gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else.” Just because a subject is serious, doesn’t mean that humour can’t be used.
Constantine P. Cavafy (1863-1933) was a Greek poet, although he was born and spent most of his life in Alexandria, Egypt. Ithaka is one of Cavafy’s most famous poems and is a tribute to the original Greek poet, Homer, and his poem The Odyssey (which along with it’s companion, The Iliad, are the two oldest known works of Western literature).