Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Keeping Your Creative Mojo

In this article Mary Beth Maziarz proposes nine ways to "screw up your creative mojo". Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we inevitably find ourselves in a bit of a creative cul-de-sac that we feel unable to get out of. At times like this, or just as a way of approaching our work from a new angle, it helps to try and bring some creative, right-brained, thinking to problem solving. Here's how Mary's creativity tips might apply to the world of architecture.
  1. Collect the pieces when they come. Solutions to problems rarely arrive fully formed and on-demand. Sometimes solutions to problems arrive at inopportune times. We have enough digital devices at our disposal these days never to have the excuse of not capturing those thoughts as they occur whether it be in the middle of the night or when out walking the dog.
  2. Stop talking and do it. Architects, especially it seems, are very good at talking around all aspects of a problem endlessly. Sometimes you just have to get on and do it. If you are not sure about something use prototypes or proofs of concept to help crystallize your ideas.
  3. Decide the time is now. Architecture is all about compromise. The role of the architect is, as much as anything, about making decisions based on the best information available at the time. Don't prevaricate endlessly until you have the perfect solution, you never will!
  4. Detach from critical thoughts and circles.You are your own worst critic, there are always many, many reasons for not doing something but usually only one for doing it. Do what you think is right and learn from your mistakes.
  5. Find and believe in your strengths. Not thinking you are clever enough, educated enough or simply having the right level of authority in your organisation can sometimes prevent you from coming out with that great idea.This is about believing in yourself.
  6. Focus your energies. This is about avoiding the distractions and trivia of everyday life (email, filling in that expense form, tweeting you're in the coffee shop etc) that prevent us from doing our art. Read Steven Presfield's War of Art (no, this is not written the wrong way round for all you business "warriors" who have read Sun Tzu's book).
  7. Try anything. Architects tend to be more logical, left-brain thinkers. Reach out to your left-brain to unblock your thoughts and improve your creativity.
  8. Enjoy the journey and your companions. Getting there is part of the fun. Work with others to make the journey more pleasant. Learn from your colleagues (both junior and senior to you) and let them learn from you. Work together, not against each other and reject the cynics and the ne'er-do-well's.
  9. Be nice to yourself. It's increasingly difficult these days to justify that long lunchtime walk or afternoon away from the office as proper work. Enjoying yourself (as part of your work) helps those creative juices to flow though. 

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