A 6-step guide to bi-polar creativity
Recently I had to explain my creative process to some people interested in creativity in business.
To be honest this is more about the different stages that I tend to go through when attempting to create. If you are looking for “best practices for creativity”… boy are you in the wrong place.
I thought I’d go about it by explaining a recent creative challenge: We wanted to provide the users of our platform a clean and elegant way to navigate through a list of component in order to pick one and dive deeper.
This is what happened:
Step 1 – This is awesome!
Yes! I found a cool concept. Users will select the section (ideas) and then a vertical bar will slide right offering them an elegant way to browse the high-level content. Clicking on one of the ideas will open up the collaboration space. This is going to rock.
Step 2 – This is more difficult that I thought
“Hum… how do I sort the content? How do I filter it?”. Basically: how do I keep this elegant but meet requirements?Contact with reality is sometimes hard. This is where creativity becomes hard, frustrating, noisy and scary.
Damn this complexity I wanted to make this simple and elegant!
Step 3 – This sucks
Stage 2 is a slow buildup as I start realizing the complexity of the task. Step3 is usually an explosion… In this case, I was working on fixing the filter issue and I realized…. “wait, how does this work on mobile”. Arrrr this is bullshit.
Step 4 – I SUCK
“How did I ever think that this was going to work?”
“I think I’m so clever then I launch on these half-baked concepts
and spend all this time only to end up in a dead-end.”
“What right do I even have to even attempt this?”
“Maybe I should I should focus on running
this startup and hire a professional.”
I usually walk away from the project at this point. Sometimes I’ll browse my favorite UI web sites like dribbble.com or pttrns.com. In the hope that I’ll come across something that gives me a trail to follow.
Step 5 – This might work
Sometimes this stage doesn’t even happen and the patient dies on the operating table. Usually though, something will hit me as I’m doing something else entirely: shower, dishes, the gym or browsing the web and seeing something clever.
Then I start feeling the urge to try something. It’s basically a quest for inspiration.
Step 6 - This is ok
Looking for a fairy tale ending? Won’t find it here.
In the end, the result is never as magical as what I had originally though. But if it works and the team likes it then we usually end up building it. But I never fully love it and constantly feel like I want to change it – which annoys developers and makes my partner’s eyes roll.
So we (the feature and I) co-exist in this state of constant tension. To be honest, there is not a single part of our platform that I wouldn’t change.
There you go. I have no idea every body else feels like this but I get the feeling that I’m not the only one from trading war stories with other “creative”.
The example here was UI design. But I seem to go through this whenever I need to tap into my creative center… preparing a workshop, designing a business model etc. I actually went through this process writing this very post J
· Stage 1: “got this great idea for a post”
· Stage 2: “Hum this is kinda tricky to explain”
· Stage 3: “This makes no sense. I’m going to look like a lunatic”
· Stage 4: “Why the hell do I write these things”
· Stage 5: “Maybe if I explain it this way…”
· Stage 6: “Well I guess it’s ok… got to push the publish button eventually…”
In case you are wondering, the slider turned out pretty good. Mostly thanks to Mia, our talented artist who has always been really good at turning my awkward sketches into something great.
All photos curtesy of Insyders.