Pursue Creativity

by Stefan Mumaw

There’s a difference between a passion and a pursuit, and that difference defines us as creatives. Many of us love design, we love writing, we love illustration. But few of us pursue these crafts with the verve required to truly master them.

Passions waiver, they falter and change abruptly. Pursuits change as well, but only after we’ve exhausted their totality, which rarely ever comes. If we value creativity and the novelty it provides in our life, we owe it to ourselves to make creativity more than a passion. We need to pursue it.

While there’s no stock process for creative pursuit, here are three conceptual steps we can make to help turn our passion for creativity into a pursuit:

Recognize That Creativity Means Solving Problems, So Solve a Ton
Regardless of your medium of choice, creativity in and of itself is about solving problems. We cannot be creative without a problem to solve, so start solving. Creativity can be trained, it’s a muscle that we can strengthen. We can get better creatively. It requires what any pursuit requires, practice and repetition. That doesn’t mean solving the same problem over and over, but that does mean engaging in the act of solving over and over. Find the medium you are passionate about, be it design, illustration, photography, typography… whatever. Then create challenges for yourself that require you to solve small problems. Don’t try to solve the big stuff, you’ll burn out before completing the challenge. Solve small problems regularly and you’ll begin to train yourself to seek out creative solutions more frequently.

Medium Doesn’t Matter
Your brain doesn’t know the difference between solving a photography problem or solving a design problem. All it knows is that you are solving and the more you solve, the stronger you get. If you’re a designer, don’t just solve problems that use the design process as the primary solution, step outside of your medium and try challenging yourself with writing a story, illustrating a picture, molding a figure. The further away you get from the routine you regularly employ, the more aware you will be of the problem’s specificity, and the more focused you’ll be on the solving part and not the executing part.

Look For Opportunities To Pursue Creativity In “Real Life”
We’re ‘Creatives’ by title but we’re creative by nature. We are confronted with innumerable opportunities throughout our day to practice creative thought, to pursue novel solutions. That pantry at home, with it’s mish-mash of cans and boxes… whatcha gonna do for dinner? Here’s your chance to pursue creativity. Make something you’ve never made, something no one’s ever made. Teaching a Sunday School class at church? Who better to get creative with than kids? Trying to decide what to put on that big, blank wall in the family room? Anyone can frame a painting, what do you have in the garage you could build to hang in that spot? And who says it has to be one thing, how about a rotating canvas where you try something new every month, something made entirely from the contents in your garage or basement? Learn to see the opportunities right in front of you and you’ll never want for creative windows.

Pursuing creativity means obsessing, it means constantly looking for the novelty available in every situation and embracing the failure as much as the success. Creativity can’t be mastered but no worthy pursuit can. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth the ride.


bear walking a tight rope

Creativity takes practice.

Illustration courtesy of Craig Winzer


Quick Tips
Creativity means solving problems, so solve small problems regularly by limiting the time of engagement and the consequence of failure.

Step outside of the mediums you regularly practice and solve problems from other disciplines. Don’t worry about execution, focus on the act of solving.

Creativity isn’t just an occupational characteristic; there are chances for us to solve problems creatively within our everyday lives if we’ll look for them.


Dig Deeper
Don’t miss Design TV’s newest video from Author of Caffeine for the Creative Mind and Caffeine for the Creative Team Stefan Mumaw. Full of creativity advice, watch this video and find out how to make the creative process part of your everyday life. Viewers will gain knowledge from Stefan as he provides examples of how he has accomplished this in his own life and at this own company.

Want to know more about learning to spot great ideas? Pick up a copy of Sam Harrison’s Ideaspotting.

August Turak, Forbes Magazine contributor, asks the simple question, “Can Creativity Be Taught?”

Need some inspiration for the types of challenges you may want to undertake in your pursuit of creativity? Pick up a copy of Caffeine for the Creative Mind and Caffeine for the Creative Team


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