In his book ‘Do Interesting – Notice. Collect. Share’, writer and strategist Russell Davies shares insights and practical advice that will help you cultivate a creative habit.
We often think of creative people as those engaged in artistic pursuits. But creativity isn’t just important amongst artists. In the business world, engaging in the creative process is what allows successful entrepreneurs to come up with interesting ideas, generate novel solutions, and find innovative ways to turn these seeds of possibility into profitable enterprises.
Practice paying attention
The first step of the process is all about developing habits that will help you become more attentive to what is happening around you. This habit doesn’t just apply to your work environment, but also to day-to-day activities like commuting, grocery shopping, or walking around your neighbourhood.
By dialing up your attention you will start noticing interesting details that no one else does. The key to developing this behaviour is not just to notice, but also to record what you’ve noticed. Recording can take many different forms including noting it down, taking a picture, and recording a voice memo.
New ideas emerge
The next practice consists of juxtaposing the notes, pictures, thoughts, and references that you collected in the previous step to allow novel ideas to form. This can be done in an organised way using tools like for example mind mapping. But the author also encourages keeping things a bit messy to allow room for the unexpected.
Don’t worry if the bits you collected appear random and unrelated. In fact, the colliding of elements from adjacent fields is exactly what will spark creative, out-of-the-box thinking.
Interestingly, while multitasking is often described as a bad thing in the context of productivity, Davies suggests that working on a few longer-term projects simultaneously can enhance creativity. By working on different tasks in parallel, it will allow for seemingly unrelated concepts to slip from one project to another, in turn generating new ideas.
“When ‘deep work’ is becoming a religion, it’s worth striking a heretical note: multitasking can be good. It might not help when you’re trying to do something detailed and focused, but shallow work, skipping from one thing to the next – juxtaposing your activities – often produces the magic”, shared Russell Davies.
Sharing as transformation
The last stage of the process is about turning your newly formed ideas into a concept, service, or product and sharing it with your audience. Imposter syndrome is common at this point. You might suddenly lose confidence in what you are about to put out into the world. But it’s important to remember that while what you are doing may have been done before, your particular way of creating and sharing, shaped by how you experience the world around you, is unique.
When it comes to procrastination, Davies recommends setting massive constraints around what you are creating. For example, if you are setting out to write a series of online articles on a theme that emerged from the data collected in the previous step, why not limit the writing time to half an hour per article? The focus and sense of urgency that this will create might make the final product even more interesting.