Amy Ng, Pikaland blogger and artist collaborator extraordinaire, has many a helpful article on creativity, business and life in her zine, The Good to Know Project. Amy hosted a Virtual Lab as part of our Holiday Workshops for Sellers series on Getting Out of the Box (you can find the recap here). I asked Amy to share more tips on sparking the creative process with Storque readers. Here they are…
About fueling creativity:
- Creativity is fueled by experiences, sights, sounds and smells. Sitting still won’t bring new ideas in; experimenting and trying new things will jog your creativity.
- I maintain a certain pattern to the day, with my morning bath signaling to me that I am starting my work with a fresh mind and spirit. After breakfast is when my day officially begins — I turn on the radio and look at my to-do list (see #3).
- I jot down notes every night before I go to bed about what I need to accomplish the next day. This way, I’m actively placing my worries onto paper so I can go to bed not fretting about what needs to be done.
- I have a box labeled for each different project I’m involved in, so I don’t worry about misplacing things or ideas. (This one was inspired by The Creative Habit.)
- I also keep a different sketchbook for different topics and ideas. I have one for business, one for random sketches and another for my writing. And in these sketchbooks I sometimes allocate different sections so that my thoughts don’t get messed up too much (there isn’t a search function on them, like a computer has!).
- I throw these sketchbooks all over the place, so when I have a thought I scribble it down quickly.
- I try and find the pattern between things, and connect the dots between random things just for fun when I’m stuck in a rut. For instance, when I see the color yellow around me, I start to focus on finding yellow things — stuff that I didn’t notice before will show themselves to me. I’m heightening my sense of awareness because I’m narrowing my focus to one thing.
- Doing things differently helps. I love calligraphy, but sometimes I seem to be stuck in a rut — it seems that I could only write in a certain way! So I stop, and see what others are doing, and try to analyze what I could do differently. A little more pressure on the downward stroke? Or how about adding more flourishes to that letter? It took me about a week of constant practice to free up my hand. If you’re stumped for ideas, have a look at Keri Smith’s 100 ideas to get you started.
- Practice, practice, practice. Creativity is like a muscle that you need to flex regularly. I dread staring at a blank piece of paper, but everything begins with that first stroke. I’m a perfectionist, so I train myself to not use erasers at all when I’m drawing. And if I do make mistakes, I start on a new piece of paper — that way I let new ideas in and not just dwell on what I previously did.
Here are some books in my collection that I pick up whenever I need a boost:
- The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp: I love this book. Twyla is a dancer and choreographer, but a lot of the things she has to say cuts across all disciplines.
- How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum by Keri Smith: Keri reminds everyone to put on their explorer goggles and look at the world with new eyes — I did a review of her book here.
- Living Out Loud by Keri Smith: Although the book is a little girlish for guys, I love the article she wrote about how to find what you love to do.
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: This is an amazing book that I pick up and read again and again. The message is simple — you won’t find what you’re looking for until you follow through on your dreams.
- How to be an Illustrator by Darrel Rees and Nicholas Blechman: I like how they talk to illustrators and get their feedback on running a creative business.
- Lines & Shapes by Lena and Mav: Amazing artists and beautiful, beautiful pictures. I have volume no. 5 and I treasure it.
- The first issue of the Good to Know project: I like keeping a copy on my bookshelf so I can read up on what my friends have to say about being creatively stuck.