Creative Exercises & The Problem with Creative People

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I still vividly remember a brainstorming meeting I once sat in on that had very few brains storming. It started off badly and went downhill very rapidly. The problem was that it was a concept challenge and the staff was being asked to come up with a word or image that could actually state an entire paragraph. The first challenge was to come up with an image that easily stated — ‘this company is the one-of-a-kind.’

I remember one of the new girls screamed, “Let’s have a broken mold with a hammer. So people think, ‘We broke the mold.'” I put my head in my hands. “Let’s get a team shirt, because we’re all part of a team,” yelled another.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking about the Ridley Scott “1984” film he did for Apple at the end of 1983. So, clearly, we were completely on different sides of the creativity spectrum and we needed to squish closer.

It’s not uncommon to have someone like me rapid fire creative ideas (some without any tie to the project) and others who offer little or nothing and just wait until a project is decided (the smart ones?).

I had the opportunity to connect with Jim Krause last week about his new book D30: Exercises for Designers: Thirty Days of Creative Design Exercises & Career-Enhancing Ideas to discuss challenging brainstorming sessions and how creative exercises can help. Here’s what he said:

Q: What advice would you give unfocused creatives like me – people who have the BIG IDEAS that need to be culled down – and the others who are great when given a task but not good at providing initial concepts?


A: Jim Krause: Creative blocks often show up in one of two forms. The first is when a creative person has so many ideas, and so many projects in mind, that they succumb to deer-in-the-headlights syndrome and find themselves frozen in place and unable to begin anything.


Other creatives simply find themselves with a blank mind when trying to come up with initial concepts or project ideas.


My advice for a person in either situation is this, “Do something. Anything. Begin. Start. Move. Now.”

They say that you can’t steer a car that isn’t moving, and that’s what I’m getting at here: Just do something and get the creative wheels turning. Before long, you can’t help but find yourself in a different place than where you were a few minutes ago, and the next thing you know, you’ll likely be steering yourself though new territory en route to a worthwhile solution. Works for me, anyway.

v8222_d30Thirty days of creative design exercises & career-enhancing ideas — D30 helps in this regard, too. It takes people of either sort and says, “Here’s a project. It’s all thought out and ready to go. Now just do it. 

I think that people who work their way through some or all of the book’s exercises will end up with a renewed sense of just how good it feels—and just how productive it can be—to simply pull out some creative tools (paint, pencil, computer, camera, whatever) and to begin a creative project. Buy Now.


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