Creativity sometimes gets a bad rap in school when teachers are trying to push students toward the STEM fields. Truth is, we need creativity too! It’s the driving force behind innovation, and it can add interest to drab and dry situations. Creative people are a key part of society, and they contribute much-needed perspective to our culture. It doesn’t always come easily, however. Even creative people aren’t constantly creating. Here are 11 rules they live by to keep the creativity coming, even through setbacks.
1. Things don’t always have to go your way
Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan—and that’s okay! Creative people know that the best ideas sometimes emerge when plans fall apart. Artists sometimes find that their best work is born from “mistakes,” and writers who let their characters lead the way often reach amazing breakthroughs. Take risks and fail sometimes, but find a way to create out of those failures.
2. Listen constantly
How many people ride through life listening to nothing but the music in their headphones? Sure, music can be inspiring, but listening to the world around you is another way creative people fuel their ideas. That one person on the bus not on their phone? They’re probably observing the world around them: people-watching, listening, and gathering information for their next big project.
3. Is it aesthetically pleasing?
Style and power work best together, as Steve Jobs knew when building the Apple brand. The constant question was: is it aesthetically pleasing? This principle guided him through many innovations, resulting in one of the most popular brands in the world. Today, Apple products are praised for their combination of great hardware and attractive design. Beauty may be dismissed by “serious” thinkers, but it’s a key part of what makes us human, and creative people know that it’s important to our identity.
4. Don’t forget the arts
The most successful people know the importance of the arts. Product design, understanding markets, and other aspects of business all rely heavily on the talent of creative people. Entrepreneurs know the importance of art in business, and the most successful are exposed to art at an early age. In fact, studies have shown that STEM graduates who file for patents or open their own businesses are 8 times more likely to be exposed to art as children than other graduates.
5. Daydream often
Considered a waste of time to many educators and parents, daydreaming is actually an essential creative process that many creative people use to their advantage. Inspiration strikes when you’re not expecting it, and daydreamers often get their best ideas when they let their minds wander and play without guidance.
6. Carve out some alone time
Though not true of all creative minds, it is very common for creative people to be introverts, and to enjoy solitude. Carving out some alone time in their busy schedules helps creativity blossom, since it allows for time to think without distractions or interruptions.
7. Create time for experimentation and focus
Alone time is what allows most creative people to “recharge,” but it’s equally important for them to carve out time specifically for experimentation and focused work. Inspiration may strike at the most surprising times, but to build on those creative ideas takes time and hard work, which creative people prioritize by making time to experiment.
8. Remember the importance of humor
Humor is how many creative people express themselves, and for good reason: it’s a way of looking at something from an unexpected perspective, something that creative people are very good at.
9. Say yes
Creativity does not come from doing the same thing over and over again every day. Creative people make it a point to say yes to new experiences and opportunities. Whether it’s a trip around the world, or a project in a new medium, creative people take chances and try new things in order to find inspiration and new information
10. Honor your own schedule
Very few people work best on the typical 9-5 schedule, and creative people know that it’s best not to try to force creativity. Instead, they honor their own internal tendencies, and work when they’re at their most productive and creative. For some, that’s the middle of the night. For others, it’s right after they’ve woken up and made a pot of tea.
11. It can be done
Above all, creative people believe in the impossible. They believe that anything can be done if they just come up with the right pieces. They’re curious, motivated, and persistent enough to solve complex problems and prove to the world that yes, it can be done, no matter what “it” may be.