As creatives, we take process seriously. No matter the medium, we cycle through from ideation to production on every project big and small. Sometimes most of our time is spent in the ideation phase. At other times it's spent actually making. And often under tight deadlines it feels like process gets thrown out the window.
Creative Habit began as a self-imposed experiment aimed at making the creative process more efficient, so that in time-sensitive situations process and quality aren't compromised. I hypothesized that by systematically condensing the timeline on my process, I would gradually find more creative and efficient ways to make. I sit down for up to an hour every day and create a design. Having shown up daily to create for over 125 days now has produced some interesting results and inspired the following reflections:
There is no such thing as a useless project.
Charles Eames once said, “My dream is to have people working on useless projects. These have the germ of new concepts.” Creative Habit has become a wellspring of initial styles and concepts for client work, a library of starting points when I've been pressed for time. Having played with a variety of styles, the possibilities are increased exponentially when you explored a wide range of techniques.
Creative work can't be measured by time spent.
Creativity is not simple. It's a recruitment, a dance among multiple brain networks that somehow produces something novel. You might hit gold in the first 10 minutes or struggle for an hour and have little to show. However long it takes doesn't determine value.
It's OK if you don't like what you made.
That's not the point. The point is that you showed up, sat down and invoked the muse. The exercise in willpower is far more valuable than whatever you made, since willpower is both a finite resource and the engine that drives creativity. You're preventing creative block and enabling a process that allows for flashes of brilliance.
Branching out encourages wild minds.
Creativity is about making novel connections, splattering all the ideas on the wall and seeing what comes out of it. It's trial and error, messy, chaotic and unruly. Embrace the mess and draw from fields outside the realm of your primary discipline because it will make the work better. I've found that the Creative Habit pieces inspired by real life experiences and influences outside the field of design add a richness and complexity.
A creative habit reduces cognitive burden.
As I mentioned before, willpower is a finite resource. so, doing something every day makes doing it easier. You're building up your willpower reserve. It's like brushing your teeth. It becomes a habit, that even when you're tired, cranky and dispassionate you still do it. And you feel immense guilt when you even think about skipping!
Community carries you when it's hard.
When I first started Creative Habit, it was a personal test, but sharing on social media has created a sense of accountability for me, motivation that I can't miss a day. Hearing from contacts that they look forward to the daily posts and wonder what I'm doing when I post later than usual has not only encouraged me to sustain the effort but has also been tremendously rewarding.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya is a Creative Director and Design Strategist. Prior to becoming a designer, Amanda studied neuroscience at Columbia University and conducted Alzheimer’s Disease research at Columbia Medical Center. Her scientific background grounds her design process and work in the fundamentals of human cognition and emotion. She believes in multidisciplinary design, collaboration and asking permission later.
Find her on LinkedIn or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.