Tuesday, September 27, 2011

From idea to creation

One of the problems of those who are creatively-oriented is getting from idea to actual creative output. We are full of ideas. Sometimes too many ideas. But actual doing something with those ideas or finding the time to work on and complete a project is another thing all together. 

Here are my top 5 tips for getting from idea to realisation (i.e. creation) of the idea.

1.  Start broad: When working on a project, don’t necessarily go with the first thing that comes into mind. Play with lots of ideas. Talk to friends/colleagues about them.  Sometimes by just talking though an idea aloud you will know that it’s not going to work or that it may have potential.  Don’t take it all too seriously or put pressure on yourself that the idea must be “the one”. The ideas may not all be good but by working through a few, you will eventually get to the right one. As Edward de Bono says “It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to always be right by having no ideas at all”.
2.  Then focus: From all the ideas you have worked through, you should eventually arrive at something that you know feels right. The more focused an idea, the better the final output will be. My own experience of this has been with planning work to feature in photography exhibitions. With the exhibition I mentioned in Collaboration across the globe, the initial idea was the 1950s. But this was really broad. So I decided to focus on haute couture and the Dior "New Look" era. That then dictated the research I did, the inspiration board I created to communicate the idea to the other people involved, the image taking and final editing and post production work.
3.  Set goals: This is nothing new, but so often we can drift along with an idea, never really getting anywhere. Set yourself a deadline. Work out the steps that need to achieved along the way (for example, preparing a brief, research, initial sketches/drafts, finding the people you will need to involve) and the timeframe in which you will do them. Keep them bite-sized. Write it down. Put it in your calendar. If other people are involved, make sure they are aware of the timescale and what needs to be achieved by when and who is responsible.
4.  Be part of a creative community: For me, I find the fortnightly meetings with the Munich Creative Arts Group a fantastic way to make sure I am setting myself goals and then achieving them (I don’t want to turn up and tell 10 people I haven’t done what I said I was going to do). If you don’t have a group like this in your area, then start one up. You might be surprised at the number of people you know who want to do something creative in their lives and the energy that bringing those people together can create.
5. Have fun! Creativity should be fun. It shouldn’t be a chore. If you have set yourself a goal, for example of writing a story or learning a particular piece of music, but you really just don’t want to do it, then it’s probably not what you are passionate about. Channel your energies into something you find fun and enjoyable and make sure it is something that you choose to do, not something you have told yourself you have to do. That’s when the childlike, playful quality emerges and the best creations are made.

Right, now I'm going to practice what I preach and start
planning my ideas for the "Urban" photography exhibition I'm
participating in later this year. I've already narrowed it down
to a series of portraits reflecting "the Urban community" so
now I need to set myself some goals to achieve...


  1. Excellent post! I think we need to print your 5 steps and hand them out at every meeting!

  2. Wonderful tips to get started and focused. Thank-you for this!