This is a post I write for myself as much as any other reason.
I once tried to keep a dream journal. Frequently I would wake up, vivid images of my dream from the night before resonating in my head. I won’t bother writing this down, I can remember it too clearly. Sure enough, moments later and I couldn’t remember a thing.
When things like this happen in our creative processes, we are really losing something.
But, it’s not only when we forget an idea that we lose something; we lose when we miss the opportunity to think of it in the first place.
To this end, we must get in the habit of taking the time to think when it is crucial.
Habit is a powerful thing.
Someone once told me, undertaking any project successfully is an act of making the right decisions at the right time. Throughout a project, you can expect to come to many forks in the road. Sometimes the right decision is not apparent. Sometimes it doesn’t even seem to be an option. Creativity happens when you find a solution that never seemed like an option in the first place.
Practically speaking this means really understanding the needs that have given rise to the project (or creative endeavour) in the first place. When you fundamentally understand what is important, you can plan the moments and decisions where you can take more time to ensure you reach the very best outcome.
So, if the idea does come and you apply it to the task at hand, is that it? Not quite.
As is often the case with creativity, a good course of action is one that does not seem very creative: plan, do, check. Plan what you are doing and understand every facet of it. Undertake the execution. When a certain phase of the execution is complete: check. This is essential and often overlooked.
Checking means validating and verifying what you are doing, but it is also a time when you can incorporate a means of capturing ideas. Capture your processes so you can understand how these ideas came about and capture creative solutions so they may be applied to future endeavours. The environment you are working in will dictate massively what this actually entails: from something like a series of forms and reviews and adoption into a company’s organisational process assets, to a note scribbled on the corner of a notepad.
If good ideas and work aren’t captured, they may have been applied to your current project, but you may miss them many more times over in the future.
It is advantageous to think outside the confines of whatever project or endeavour you are undertaking at the time. Take the time to allow yourself to be creative, review your ideas and processes regularly, and use each project to learn for the future.
Cover photo by Neil Conway.