How to Begin a Creative Project

Originally published at

“Creativity is just connecting things.” — Steve Jobs

“Where do I start?”

“Where do I start?” That’s the question a lot of people ask themselves when they try and begin a creative project (usually for the first time).

Unfortunately, a lot of people who begin a creative project soon give up because they don’t know where to start, hitting a creative and productivity plateau before they’ve taken more than a few steps. 

The creative person knows a secret though — start anywhere and wherever you can!

Start Anywhere

​“I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else.” — Pablo Picasso

Say (for example), you want to start making greeting cards but you don’t have the materials. Don’t wait until you are able to get your hands on the correct paper, cutting implements, glue, etc. — just start with what you have.
In essence, make a prototype. Find bits of paper and card around your house and put them to the test; which are the easiest to fold or cut, which are suitable for writing on, etc?

Then, when you’ve tested your ideas, move on to the next step — the starting proper.

You’ll already have a good idea about the materials and resources you’ll need before you begin. Nobody ever went to battle without first testing their weapons!

Often, when I write music, I start off with an improvisation which my computer transcribes into notational form. Depending on the music, the result on the screen can often be an unintelligible mess (due to slight limitations in technology). What happens then though, is I break it apart, split it up and rearrange it, editing and reworking the ideas and putting them together in a logical order.

If you have an idea for story but are stuck on how to begin it, start elsewhere. Write the last chapter first.

If you don’t have the means or time to travel somewhere in order to take sprawling landscape photos, start by photographing that which is around you.

If you feel unable to write an epic poem in the scale of Dante’s Inferno, write a haiku.

A creative project is rarely just begun and completed in one polished first draft. Even a genius will have to rework his work. But then, that’s what makes him so.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Use Anything You Can Find

Use whatever you can find and use any ideas at all that you may have. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle; you start with one piece (the idea or a germ of an idea), and you gradually add pieces that fit to complete the picture. Sometimes you’ll make a mistake and have to start elsewhere or again.

Remember, creativity is a process.

It a series of actions that result in an end.

Or a middle or a beginning.

Adapted from ‘You Can Create! 24 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Potential’ by Richard P John. Available at Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Scribd.