Most people, when they have to complete a creative endeavour, often tend to wait for inspiration. It is not unusual to find, therefore, that most people take inordinately long to complete projects or never finish them at all. Look at the infinite number of people with half-finished first-drafts under their bed. This reveals a lack of understanding of how the mind and creativity work, for the best way to find a bucket-load of inspiration is to force it out.
1) Engaging in the Task.
Simply engaging in the task generates ideas. By defining the work process, people can frame the mind for the coming task and keep work flowing.
2) Absorption in the project.
Absorption in a project creates inspiration for other, similar projects. Screenwriters know that they will come up with lots of good ideas for other screenplays while they are working on the present one.
One reason for a lack of inspiration is that the creator suffers from any of the many forms of evaluation apprehension. By forcing engagement in and completing the project, that creator can leapfrog blocks, which progressively decline with further projects. Confidence comes from having undergone a set of positive successful experiences.
Another reason for not embarking on projects is the lack of developed competencies. Competencies build up gradually over a set of positive experiences:
i) The experience curve shows us that in the early stages, relative lack of experience, knowledge and refined methodology limits performance to sub-optimal levels. With time these factors improve and productivity increases exponentially.
ii) Subliminal and subconscious learning - when we are motivated by an endeavour we will become good at it by working at it on various cognitive levels.
iii) Subliminal and subconscious perception - many skills and actions are initially learnt with much conscious effort, then, with practice, they come easily and smoothly. After complete automisation, paying attention may actually be detrimental.
The above concepts are encapsulated in common expressions such as, "you have to write a million words before you write anything good." Knowledgeable screenwriters know that it was really only after a certain number of completed screenplays that they really began to get good.
One of the most sustained myths about creativity is that it is not a process. In fact, inspiration and insight results from a definite process which includes:
i) Dividing the problem into sets of smaller problems.
ii) Intensely investigating problems.
iii) Forcing the production of ideas using creative versus critical thinking.
iv) Seeking stimuli.
v) Applying constant conscious thought.
vi) Engaging in rest and unrelated activities.
vii) Allowing incubation
6) Forcing prolific activity.
Forcing engagement in an endeavour triggers prolific activity - and it can be concluded with a high degree of certainty that quality of output is closely related to sheer quantity. The single best creative product tends to appear at that point in the career when the creator is being most prolific.
In conclusion, inspiration is best attained by forcefully and consciously engaging in a project. Experienced hands will tell you, just do it!
These and other topics are covered in depth in the MBA dissertation on Managing Creativity & Innovation, which can be purchased at www.managing-creativity.com">http://www.managing-creativity.com
You are free to reproduce this article as long as the author's name, web address and link to MBA dissertation is retained.
Kal Bishop MBA
Kal is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller.