“The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.” Oscar Wilde

We’ve all stared in awe at amazing 3-D sidewalk art, or a breathtaking photograph, or a building that’s obviously off the beaten path. Way off the beaten path. Envy abounds. Who are these creative geniuses?

They’re you.

All right, so they’re not really you…but they could be. Everyone has deep, untapped wells of creativity. All you have to do is learn how to get to them and, once you’re there, how to make the most of it.

1) Don’t Self Edit

Think before you speak. Did your mother ever tell you that when you were growing up? I know mine sure did.

When tapping into your creativity, speak first. It’s called brainstorming. Let all of your ideas, no matter how crazy those ideas happen to be, flow out. Don’t censor, don’t edit.

There’ll be time to do that later.

2) Do It for Yourself First

Channeling your creative streak into someone else’s vision is hard. Really hard. When you’re creating you need to do it for yourself first. Let your own vision flow out onto the page, even if your vision isn’t always the same as the guys you’re creating for.

Many a book or marketing piece has been born not from the mind of the CEO that ordered it, but from the artist that created it. Your vision might not be as far off as you think. And if it is? Don’t throw out what you create. You never know when you’re going to want it later.

3) If You Restrict Your Creativity to Work, You’ve Already Lost

Making your passion your career is hard. Really hard. If you love to write, it makes sense to write for a living, right? If you’re an artist, why not let graphic art win the day?

The problem is, what you create at work isn’t necessarily exactly where your passion lies. Creating ad copy is a long way from painting landscapes, and brochures aren’t the great American novel.

Restricting your creativity to work is going to restrict your creativity, period.

4) Branding Isn’t the End All/Be All to Your Creative Summons

I toss this in because one of the coolest marketing pieces our graphic artists ever put together didn’t look like they should have anything to do with our brand. But it was snappy, it was sassy, and we decided to use it anyway.

We haven’t regretted that. Don’t let your brand restrict how creative you can be.

5) Creativity Only Takes Up Time If You Let It

If you have forever to work on a project, you’re going to overthink it. Period. If you’re stuck on something, give yourself five minutes and just do it. Let your brain do what it’s going to do. When you’re in too much of a hurry to get in your own way what you create can be something spectacular.

6) Daydream

Your teachers, parents and yes, your boss have effectively dedicated their lives to getting you to stop daydreaming and start doing. But when you daydream is precisely when your imagination gives you the tools to create.

The next time you’re working on a project I want you to take at least 15 min, lay back, close your eyes and let your mind drift. Think about the project, but don’t force your mind to go where you want it to go. (This is great for writing and film projects, by the way.)

What you come up with will be the epitome of your creativity.

7) Sleep!

When you’re exhausted your brain has all it can do to keep your lower functions rolling. Basically, your body’s so busy worrying about how to keep breathing and walk without walking into the walls that it doesn’t have any energy to spare for the art of creativity.

Make sure you’re getting 8-10 each night. You’ll be amazed what your creativity will do.

8) Leave Fear Behind

Do you know why we all aren’t writers, or artists, or video game designers? Because we’re afraid. We’re afraid we’re not going to succeed, so we don’t even try. We look at what we create, immediately assume it’s not good enough, and throw in the towel.

Tapping into your creativity is like learning to walk. You’re going to fall down. It’s going to hurt. You can decide whether to give up, spend the rest of your life crawling and never reach your full potential, or you can get back up and try again.

I know where my money would be.

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