I grew up in a family that put a priority on working hard and doing your best at everything you set out to do. My parents encouraged us to pursue our interests (including painting our rooms, dying our hair, and trying every new craft we saw), but that kind of creativity came after all the “real work” was done.
When I started my business, it was hard for my family of logical-thinking-math-types (seriously, my husband, sister, brother-in-law, and both my parents are in careers that involve math) to understand how I was going to make a living in a creative field like graphic design. They tried to understand, but it was up to me to find a way to cultivate my creativity and turn it into a successful business.
As my business has grown, I’ve learned that creativity isn’t always easy – in fact, sometimes I had to make a real effort to include it into my work every day. But in order to keep paying the bills, I had to find ways to make creativity a priority in every aspect of my business.
Find a way to prioritize creativity in a way that fits you.
Set aside a time and place to create and don’t allow other people to make you change how you foster your own creativity. It seems counterintuitive, but setting up a routine around your creativity can actually help you be more creative. The more you practice creativity, the easier it will be to get into the groove when you’re ready to work. It’s important to find your own way of creating – no one else can tell you how you work best, so experiment with different times, places, and methods instead of simply following what works for someone else.
Get to know your industry standards, but don’t be limited by them.
Creativity often strikes when you see a need and find a way to fill it. As you start working in your industry, take the time to figure out what works for you and your clients and what doesn’t. Once you know where you need to make changes, come up with creative ideas to solve those problems. You could create a new method of working or put processes in place that help you manage your work in a way that fits you. You don’t have to do things the way everyone else does – in fact, you’ll stand out more if you do things your own way (and you’ll enjoy your work more because it will work for you).
Collaborate with people in other fields.
One of my favorite ways to push myself outside of my creative box is to collaborate with others. Whether I’m working with my photographer to shoot images for my new branding process or I’m helping plan a local art event, working on collaborative projects makes me think beyond branding and websites and opens my eyes to new opportunities.
Find a group of people in other industries with similar audiences and find a way to work together. They will hold you accountable and will help you foster creativity by thinking outside the box. If you’re not sure where to start building collaborations, try joint webinars or guest posting. From there, you can find opportunities that will benefit you and your commnity—whether in business or through a passion project.
Creativity is about trying something new for the sake of trying.
When creativity strikes, go ahead and follow it without fear of failing or looking silly. Practice saying yes to creativity and you’ll find yourself being more inspired. It’s okay to try something and decide it doesn’t work. It’s okay to put your best effort into something that no one will ever see. Remember, creativity can be just for you, so don’t be afraid to foster your creativity through a project that no one else knows about.
If you want to cultivate creativity in your life, find ways to hold yourself accountable – through working with others, trying something new just because you can, or finding new ways of doing things. The more your make creativity a part of your daily life, the easier it will be to get into your creative space and make something amazing.