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Unleashing Creativity


About a year ago I came across Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon.  This has been my pocket book for breaking through creative lulls.  I would like to share some meaningful insights, along with some quotes from the book.  Let’s begin:

“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.” – AK

1. You can’t outsource creativity.

“Ask anybody doing truly creative work, and they’ll tell you the truth: They don’t know where the good stuff comes from.  They just show up to do their thing.”

New ideas come to mind when I take ownership over what it is I’d like to accomplish.

2. You can unleash creativity.

“Your job is to collect good ideas.  The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by.”

Begin your stockpile and keep a notepad or photo journal.  Nothing is original.  Let your mind marinate on the coolest things you see.  I don’t imitate, instead I find inspiration and I let my imagination out to play.

3. Be prepared before you begin.

“An uncluttered space; an uncluttered mind.”

I love to rush into projects, sitting awkwardly, with a desk full of stuff and things scattered all over.  Big mistake. It takes a conscious effort to keep my space clean and open, a habit I fight to keep resilient, but I have found that a clean space gives my mind space to explore new ideas with less distractions.

4. Get analog savvy.

“The computer is really good for editing your ideas, and it’s really good for getting your ideas ready for publishing out into the world, but it’s not really good for generating ideas.”

Paper, pencils, markers, post its, and whiteboards, this is where creativity is fostered.  The best ideas start from scratch, not from key strokes.

5. Just sit down and do it.

“You’re ready. Start making stuff.”

To dive into the depths of your creativity; you’ve got to swim on your own for at least 90 minutes.  Let yourself get lost, swim in circles, and try new strokes.  The first fifteen minutes are the hardest to overcome and easiest to get distracted.

6. Disconnect from distractions.

“Rise above your distractions and turn on airplane mode.  Turn off your inbound and outbound messaging of any kind, it will let you clear your mind and let new ideas flow.” – Dave Inglis

When was the last time you actually turned your phone and computer and tablet off?  If this scares you, take baby steps:  start with the Airplane mode function.

7. Rinse and repeat.

“Once you start getting your ideas, then you can move over to your digital station and use the computer to help you execute and publish them.  When you start to lose steam, head back to the analog station and play.”

One tool I have found particularly effective for limiting digital time is the Alinof Timer.  It’s a free app that lets you set intervals for work and take breaks (usually in 30 minute intervals.)  Another is the Freedom App:  It turns off all Internet access on your device and lets you get down to work without distraction.


carson-kolbergCarson Kolberg

Co-founder of Meal In A Jar

Twitter: @koolberg