The Creativity Canvas (Pt. 3)

In the last two blog posts of this introductory trilogy of the Creativity Canvas I wrote about why I designed the Creativity Canvas in the first place (Part 1) and about its basic architecture and design decisions (Part 2).

Here is a reminder of the canvas.

The Creativity Canvas

This last blog post of this trilogy outlines my ideas on how to use the canvas or in a broader sense how to design a creative life. I delibaretley say idea because I myself still experiment with ways to use the canvas in the best way possible.

I suggest to approach the canvas in 3 states which constantly iterate and can lead to growth.

  1. Understand
  2. Create
  3. Reflect
  4. Grow

This is a working hypothesis. One that I am further exploring currently. Nevertheless I share a few practical thoughts.

Approach to explore the Creativity Canvas.

1. Understand

Designing something means understanding it in the first place. This is also true for designing a creative life. Explore your creativity with the help of the canvas first.

Depending on what you want to achieve, not each element will be equally important to you for your current endeavour. Think about what kind of creative outcome you want to accomplish with the canvas.

Here are some ways to start your process. Generally be playful, curious and explorative in this stage. Don’t rush and re-explore every now and then.

Try this:

  1. Get yourself a journal and write down interesting thoughts, ideas and observations.
  2. Read over the Creativity Canvas element notations and see if any segment jumps at you. If so, write down a couple of sentences that come to your mind — you have a journal now, right? Why did you gravitate towards those specific elements? Write it down!
  3. Step back and think about what living a creative lifestyle means to you right now? Maybe it’s a hobby, a project, a habit, a venture … What could you possibly do to think of yourself as a creative person?
  4. Now take another look at the canvas. Think about the elements that are specifically important to consider in order to achieve your vision about your creative self.
  5. Make a list of 10 possible next steps that you can do in order to get closer to whatever you set out to do.

2. Create

Now show up and create. Do whatever you set out to do. Start your vegan pastry blog, write 500 words every day for that novel you want to publish, flesh out a social media campaign for a crowdfunding campaign, engage in a daily ideation exercise or in a weekly idea sprint with your team, …

Remember, in order to be creative you need to create.

Creating typically involves the canvas elements of the segment “externalisation”. Note that you do not need to have it perfectly done at the first try. Instead, learn on the go and continuously improve.

Try this:

  1. Create. This is key. Start with the first thing on your list (see understand) and start. Regardless how small or unnoticeable your creation might look like, you need to start.
  2. Boost your curiosity. There is no silver bullet on how to do that but curiosity is a key component to uncover problems, to find opportunities or to discover what drives you. But don't worry — you can start with a creative exercise right here. Imagine there would be a “International Curiosity Day” and you are responsible to design a program or event for your community / city / organisation / company. How would your event look like to celebrate curiosity and inspire people to delibaretley be more curious?
  3. Share your creative vision with others. Ask for feedback, ask for support or for friendly words. Don’t confuse those, however. Sometimes honest feedback needs to be harsh which can be hurtful if you were instead looking for some encouragement and nice words. Be specific what you are looking for and let the other person know this, too.
  4. Build up your knowledge and skills that you need in order to perfect your creations. This is a long-term thing. A marathon if you will. Be patient but consistent.
  5. Creativity more often than not means to design a creative habit. Think about what could you possibly do, when, where and as a reaction to which trigger that helps you to create. Go ahead and use this as a prompt:
    I will do _________________ (creative action), each day at ___________________ (time) at ____________________ (location).

3. Reflect

This step can take on many forms. Reflection can be some sort of planning and thinking before creation. It also can mean assessment of how well you executed your creative vision or a regular check in how happy you are with your creative project. Reflection can also refer to some kind of learning as you pursue your creative project and discover new aspects of your creativity.

Don’t consider reflection as a step after the two others mentioned above. My hunch is that reflection happens constantly in one way or another.

Try this:

  • Go through your journal every few weeks. See what catches your eye and re-explore that thought.
  • Talk to others who might help you in advancing with a certain element of a canvas.
  • Specify the quality you want to achieve with your creative actions. Do you just want to dabble and engage in a creative activity as a hobby or do you seek to create on a semi-professional, professional or master level?
  • Keep track of what excites you and what activates you. These observations may lead to insights on what to pursue.
  • Review the elements that make up your “creative engine”. Make sure you know why you engage in the one or the other form of creativity. Design yourself reminders!

4. Grow

I truly believe that living a creative life means constant growth as you explore and re-explore your inner self through your creations. Growing can refer to personal growth but also to growth of others as you share your creative work or inspire others to live a creative life, too.

For now I leave this step open and invite you to think about how you could grow through the pursuit of a creative life? How could others grow through and with you?

This is it now. The introductory trilogy of the Creativity Canvas. I am looking forward to any feedback.

As an outlook I can share, that I am further exploring and developing the canvas as well as designing ways to share with curious people who want to live a creative live.