Creative process of design versus deadlines.

What does the creative process of design involve?

creativieIs it pure artistic inspiration, or is it analytical data that comes together in the designer’s mind as a symphony of ideas evolving into a tangible product almost of its own volition?

Whether you’re analytical, or creative, or, like most of us, have a blend of skills and talents, I think we all agree that the creative process is not always plain sailing and can be a little unpredictable, especially when a deadline is looming.

Why is this and is there anything that can be done to facilitate the birth of a design?

The trouble with anything creative is that it is… well, creative.  Creativity can’t be forced.  It can’t be manufactured and it definitely can’t be inspired on demand. Or can it?  Is there a formula or a process that can facilitate creativity?  If you’re facing a tight deadline, that fact alone can scare the creativity right out of you.

For writers that situation is known as ‘writer’s block’.  It generally involves you staring at a blank screen with your fingers poised over the keyboard, not having a clue as to which keys to hit.  For once, you have nothing to say… or nothing you say sounds right. Experienced, successful and prolific writers say that they have developed a process that triggers a break through so that they rarely experience writer’s block.  Those triggers are generally quite mundane and not at all ‘creative’, but they are practical and they do work.

Many of these writers say that by forcing themselves to write a certain amount daily, even if it’s just a short paragraph, gets the creative juices flowing. They swear that by doing this they rarely experience a problem when facing a deadline.  They start off writing about anything – not necessarily engaging in the writing task at hand, but simply allowing their fingers to literally type anything that enters their mind.  Some say they write lorem ipsum if necessary until their brain kicks in and the creative neurons start firing again. John Grisham once said that he wrote many of his best sellers during his morning train commute to work.  The routine of getting on the train and beginning to write triggered his creativity.

The fact is that creativity is one part inspiration and three parts perspiration.

You can certainly enhance the creative process, whether you’re designing, creating artwork or writing, by being in an environment that inspires you.  Psychologists suggest getting out into a forest, or onto a beach, or just being surrounded by the beauty of nature will do the trick.  Architects say vaulted ceilings and lots of light and volumes of airy space will predispose you to being creative.  While that is all true, there’s no substitute for developing a process that’s easily duplicable based on the discipline of routine.

Athletes don’t begin exercising the same day they’re doing a trialthalon.  You’ll see them lifting weights, running, swimming and whatever else they need to do, on a regular basis.   Similarly, artists don’t begin their career by creating a masterpiece.  Composers don’t compose a symphony on their first attempt ever.

creativieYou’ve heard the saying, ‘practice makes perfect’ and the best way to get creative juices flowing, the best way to be inspired and to get really, really good at producing excellent results ‘on demand’, is to develop a process that hones your skills, nurtures your talent and allows your mind to simultaneously fully engage and fully disengage.  Having your mind simultaneously engaged and disengaged might sound a little crazy, but how many times have you had an inspired idea or had a solution to a problem pop into your mind while you were doing something unrelated and often quite mundane?  Like driving. Or cleaning. Or walking.

The creative process of design becomes a lot easier if you are able to establish a routine and engage in design activities that don’t require heavy concentration.  Just like the writer who writes ‘lorem ipsum’ until their fingers take over and their mind gets into the ‘zone’, the designer can doodle design related items.  Even taking an item where the design is already visible and recreating it on paper can act as a trigger for creativity.

Make a habit of doing certain things in a specific order before you begin to design the item you’re working on.  Make it a process of predictable steps.  This routine will go a long way to helping you be more creative.  As the scientists say, a body in motion tends to stay in motion, while a body at rest tends to stay at rest.  Put a design process in motion and pretty soon that process will take on a motion of it’s own toward an ease of creativity that will have you both creative and meeting deadlines with ease.