The Practice of Creativity

Regardless of whether you were born with an over-the-top imagination or struggle to think up new ideas, creativity is something we can improve upon if we practice daily! Adopting creative habits, both in and out of the office, is a lot of fun. When creatives work well together, they generously allow for a free exchange of ideas, build trust, get better results—and most importantly—enjoy the process.

A few habits that creatives should make a part of daily routines are:

Collect Ideas: The only way to remember ideas is to keep records. Author Anne Lamott stows index cards everywhere—her home, car, and bag. She’s always got a place to jot down a thought. Do what works for you. Keep a notebook. Record audio memos. Take photos. Start an inspiration file. Jot down overheard statements, doodles, or details of a dream.

Study Creatives: Read about creative people. Listen to interviews. Talk to creatives. Then, adopt some of their techniques. For instance, David Bowie, in a 2003 interview with Performing Songwriter, suggested to tear a magazine page in half lengthwise, misalign the words, and get inspired by unusual juxtapositions.

Collaborate: Participate in a project with the most creative people you know. Co-write a book, organize a community event, or play music together. The goal is to finish a creative project together. For fun.

Consider All Angles: You’ve come up with a great concept. Now, think about that concept from different perspectives: patients, doctors, payers, co-workers, loved ones, and even the family pet.

Seek Inspiration Through Art: Paintings, music, and theater all deal with human motivation, belonging, and connection. What better inspiration for pharma marketing?

Meanwhile, a few ways to foster a safe, brave, and creative environment at work include:

Keep That Ego in Check: The “My Way or the Highway” mentality prevents the free flow of ideas in groups. Agree together that ego should be placed on a successful end product, not necessarily “my” idea.

Adopt Methods: Walt Disney’s brainstorm method involved three personas: The Dreamer, where all ideas, no matter how expensive, difficult, or bizarre, are heard without judgment. The Realist seeks ways to make those ideas work. Only then does The Spoiler look for any weak spots or critique.

Start at the End: Write your end goal on the center of a board and mind map the components that will help achieve the goal. Learn more here.

Rework Judgment Statements: Nothing squelches creativity more than, “That won’t work,” “The client will hate that,” or “That failed when we tried it.” Instead, try phrases that push ideas farther: “I like <this aspect>. Tell me how we can use this to fulfill our client’s wish for _______?” or, “How will we overcome the obstacles we faced in the past?”

Creativity requires practice, trust, and persistence. Adopting these habits fosters imagination, improves the quality of ideas, and of course, leads to the next big thing.

Trust me, it’s gonna be epic.

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