“creativity takes courage”
Until I read the above quote by french artist Henri Matisse I thought creativity was a frenzy of inspiration. It’s only after understanding the element of courage in creativity that I discovered how planned out being creative is.So what did Henri do to create those incredible paintings that I hadn’t quite figured out ? It was when I delved into the world of Matisse that I came up with a few guidelines which have served me well over the years.
1. Make a Plan
When creating a painting, Matisse would always do a very light and rough sketch of his intended work. He knew how large or small it would be and from what perspective. I’m not a painter so I needed to find a tool which could sketch out my intended work, giving me a map to follow.
One of my favorite tools is a mind-map. Taking a large piece of paper, I draw a circle in the center of it labeling it with the name of my project. I then divide my project into major categories and task I’ll need to accomplish. I place each one of these categories inside a separate circle and connect them to the center circle with a spoke. Often, each major category circle has more precise details which I connect with a spoke naming the detail on the spoke thread.
It’s usually at this stage in the process that I spend a lot of creative time thinking about how I want the creation to come about. Tony Buzan is the father of the mind-map and has wonderful resources to learn about mind-mapping. You can make your map simple or very artistic and colorful. The idea is just to get your ideas down into a plan you can follow.
2. Make a Daily To-Do List
Now that you have a map about what you plan on creating. It’s time to make a to-do list for each bubble on your mind-map. once this to-do list of action items is finished, decide where you’ll begin and make a daily to-do list for the next week. At the end of the week create another to-do list. As you finish each item mark it off you list. Remember it may not be where you want it yet but you’ll make another pass around. The important thing is to keep creating and keep marking things off of your list.
3. Plan your Day the Night Before
Before you go to bed on an index card write down what you will do tomorrow. Take a few moments to fully visualize yourself doing this. See yourself doing the things on the list. People who plan their day before they go to bed have a higher success rate of accomplishing these things than people who don’t make a before bed plan. Also, any issues that might come up with your creative process can often be solved while sleeping. It’s quite a normal event to wake up with an idea to move the project along or have a problem solved.
By planning your day the night before, you can start you day off running knowing exactly what you hope to accomplish.
4. Take Action
Your planning phase is over. It’s time to get doing what you’ve planned and scheduled. Pick up your paint brush. Open the writing program on your computer. Sit down at the keyboard. Take a deep breath, count to 3 and go. Don’t worry about what comes out, just free form it for a few minutes. After you’ve worked out your creativity jitters with your warm-up move onto the first thing on your list.
Valarie Budayr is the founder of Audrey Press and author of the book The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden. She is passionate about making kid’s books come alive and you can find her doing that on her popular blog and website, Jump into a Book. When she isn’t being bookie, she is very happily the mother of three uber creative children, married to a wonderfully patient man who has come to love yarn, and caretaker of one adored cat. Other creative interests are music, travel, knitting (a bonafide yarn harlot), and gardening. She loves living a daily creative practice, where even a good cup of coffee is art.