Creativity in the broader sense can feel, to the uninitiated, like a monolithic and seemingly impossible pursuit. But as someone who has spent decades in the creative trenches, I’m here to tell you that creativity is made up of smaller more manageable steps which allow any – and all – of us to access our innate creative ability. That being said, there’s more to creativity than breaking it down into its component parts. Creativity is also highly dependent upon your process. A flawed or unexamined process can lead to frustration and unsatisfactory results. One of the best ways that I’ve found to improve the creative process is by striving for and maintaining momentum. Below are a few reasons why momentum in your creative work can be particularly powerful.
1. Momentum prevents perfectionism
The creative process is often messy and unpredictable. A natural response to this chaos is to try to perfect what you’re working on as a way of returning a little order to the proceedings. There will be a time to reestablish order but early on in the process is definitely not that moment. By encouraging yourself to maintain forward progress instead of bogging down by trying to perfect the details, you’ll find that you make much greater gains in your creative pursuits. Momentum prevents you from editing and perfecting too soon which can inhibit the flow of ideas. Allowing yourself to move forward with “good enough” will give you a much better chance of fleshing out your ideas totally before you go back to polish to “great” what you’ve created.
2. Projects get completed
A creative idea that doesn’t see the light of day is not going to bring anything new to your work or the world at large. Creativity is at its best when the project gets done and others can benefit from the results. By maintaining your momentum beyond a simple idea and following through until your creative project is completed, you’ll have tangible proof of your creative work that otherwise would have just been another unrealized brainstorm or idea. Keep the finish line in sight and use momentum to keep pushing you forward until you’ve reached it.
3. Momentum begets momentum
It can help to think of your creative process as a flywheel that builds up speed and power with every small creative effort you make. To continue the metaphor, starting a creative project can feel overwhelming much like the first turn of a flywheel but the more consistent your efforts, the greater the momentum you’ll achieve. This momentum is not only important inside the scope of a singular creative project but also from one project to another. The more you’re able to move forward with your creative projects the easier it will be to move on to the next one and the one after that. Using the momentum of a successful creative project to inspire you to tackle another is a great way to build your creative practice.
In my experience, the only way to become better and more consistent in your creative work is to keep doing it. To that end, building up momentum can make the entire process not only easier but also more fun. It doesn’t hurt to remember that the creative process can be enjoyed, too. Momentum will allow you to look back and take stock of your growing body of work and find the necessary motivation to keep you moving onward and upward.
Find out more about Cliff’s innovation & creativity workshops for business teams and organizations.