Trust Me, You’re Way More Creative Than You Think
SimonSays #15 - ‘Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has had an idea’ Nolan Bushnell
I started writing a newsletter during the lockdown in France. Immediately, I had to find an answer to a tough question — what should I write about? It was particularly tough because I felt like people wouldn’t be interested in whatever I wrote. There’s so much content out there, and so much more published every day that it’s difficult to find your space and your voice. But if that experience taught me anything, it’s probably that we’re way more creative than we think, and I don’t mean this in any pseudo-inspirational manner. I just came to realize that most of us (I included) put ourselves in this non-creative box and thus unconsciously reject or fail to grasp any creative thoughts we may have. So here are three ways to maximise your creative potential.
Get Past the Imposter Syndrome
This is key. If you’ve established that you weren’t a creative person you’ll reject most creative thoughts that pop in your head. And this type of approach might be setting you back not only with regards to creativity but in countless domains in life: whether it’s entrepreneurship, travel adventures, financial investments etc. I’m sure you’ve thought of great ideas before but then refused to follow through because you convinced yourself that it wasn’t for you.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying you should naively jump headfirst in any idea you may have. It’s important to be rational. Yet, it’s also worth being on the lookout for better ideas or the easier ones to implement. Trust me, you’d be surprised by the results.
To come back to my writing dilemma, I was convinced that whatever I decided to write about, I wouldn’t have any added value and that no one would take me seriously. However, I was lucky to have had a breakthrough a few months before that had boosted my confidence and allowed me to get past that imposter syndrome and initial block.
A year prior, I had attended the United Nations General Assembly as an intern. After much hesitation, I had decided to write about my experience during the High-Level Week. I was absolutely stunned by the response I got. Indeed, people I would not have suspected told me they had read and enjoyed the article and that from now on they would try to pay more attention to what was going on at the UN and in particular during the High-Level Week. So when it was time to start writing a newsletter, this experience helped get me past that imposter syndrome and follow through on my idea.
The easiest way to get past that imposter syndrome is to focus on:
What you love
Whatever you focus on or write about has to be something you’re passionate about or at least interested in. Because you’re much more knowledgeable about things you love and are constantly reading about them in books, articles and social media. You’re also more likely to have engaged in debates on the topic with friends and family or online and thus to have been exposed to many different opinions on the topic. A friend of mine recently started a Surf newsletter. As a surf lover, he’s gathered so much knowledge on the topic that it would be a shame not to share it with all the surf nonaficionados out there like myself.
A niche sector
You can imagine that if you were to write about US Elections, the Trump Presidency or Climate Change your article would be among the thousands of articles already written on the topic. So focusing on something niche could be a good strategy. Indeed when your content will appear on your friends’ news feed it will be different from what they’re used to seeing. Who knows, you could also become a specialist or among the go-to people writing about that topic on the internet.
What your potential audience doesn’t know/care about
The last approach to finding “added value” to whatever you decide to write about is to think about your potential audience. In most cases, it will be a combination of friends and family and other people that follow you on social media. The idea then becomes to write about something your audience doesn’t know about or would not necessarily care about. That was one of the things I thought about when writing my article on the United Nations. When I later wrote about Providing Assistance to Sex Workers in Navi Mumbai’s Red Light District, I knew that regardless of the quality of the article, by writing on such a topic I was able to shed light on issues that my audience would probably not have been interested in nor read about in the first place. That was enough to convince me that I was on the right track and that what I was writing about had some added value.
Find Your Creative Environment
Ideas do not come to you while you’re sitting at your desk. Indeed there appears to be certain environments and periods that favor creativity. These vary from one person to the next. I’ve come to realize that the time when I’m the most creative seems to be in the shower, when I’m trying to fall asleep and when travelling. I actually started writing this article on a subway ride. The UN article which I mentioned earlier was written on a bus ride.
I was actually surprised to learn that like me, most people get their best ideas in the shower. Or as the Creator & Founder of Chuck E. Cheese, Nolan Bushnell, writes: “Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has had an idea”.
Other ways to stimulate creativity could be being surrounded by green spaces, listening to music or exercising.
Take Your Time
Writing takes time. I can’t emphasize that enough. I read somewhere, though I can’t seem to find where nor who wrote it, that writing is the process of rewriting something over and over again until it seems less bad. That’s exactly how I see it! You can’t imagine the number of times where I wrote stuff and was depressed about how terrible it was when I reread it.
Finding your voice is hard. It’s especially hard because we’re not used to writing in this way. When was the last time you sat down and started writing about a topic or putting thoughts into words (in a non-academic setting)? I’m sure some of you must have struggled to find an example or replied never because it’s not a very common thing to do! That’s why writing is such a great exercise. It forces you to sit down, think and research certain topics in a much deeper way than you’re probably used to.
Now it’s Your Turn ✍️
If you want to start writing or just started and think I can be useful in any way, please do not hesitate to leave a comment or contact me on Twitter @the_simonpastor 🙂 I’d be more than happy to help!