How Does a Creative Director Stay Creative?

 

With a word like “Creative” in my job title I think a lot about creativity, what it means to be creative on-demand, how to inspire my staff to stay creative, and how creativity plays day-to-day with results driven marketing, web, and branding. 

It’s been a LONG couple of years. With two young kids, a business, a recently purchased fixer upper, and an ongoing pandemic that has thrown us off our schedule countless times, staying creative has sometimes been a challenge. 

When I have to be creative but tbh am not really feeling it, what do I do? Our clients are still paying for creative work, my team is still looking to me to be present, push them and find creative ways to bring strategies to life. Let me share some of my hacks that help me keep things fresh, exciting, and relevant.

4 of My Favorite Creativity Hacks

1.DAILY Inspiration.
Here’s how it works: One very responsible team member manages an inspiration calendar, reminds whomever is next at the mtg the day before it’s their turn, and viola, we start each day with something that inspires the person who is presenting. Sometimes it’s a simple quote that just felt good to them that day, other times it’s an entire ad campaign that is mind blowing, and other times still it’s a music video with crazy animation, a yoga or meditation session, the list goes on and on. Having this space, each day, and being able to have the whole team take ownership of helping to create creativity has been a huge load off of me and also awesome to see the myriad ways different people internalize what it means to “inspire” and be “inspired”. It regularly fills my cup. 

2. The Inspo Folders.
Who here knows what
Strengthsfinder is? Now known as “Clifton Strengths” it’s an amazing tool for understanding your own personal strengths and those of your team. With this knowledge you can do lots of things, but one thing in particular that I learned through this work is that I have the strength of “Input”. 

INPUT PRIMER HERE: Input | CliftonStrengths Theme Definition 

Input is a strategic thinking skill that basically acknowledges that I get ideas from the world around me. I take in massive amounts of information and then let it marinate in my brain until ideas form. It could be that something I read or saw online or was inspired sparks an idea that helps me creatively solve problems in new ways.  

Once I recognized this as a strength, I became much more intentional in gathering input and making time to research and collect ideas. ENTER-> the inspo folder. We have a shared folder that all of our staff can and are encouraged to drop things they are seeing “in the wild” that caught their attention. I make time to add to these folders weekly and ensure I am exercising my input muscles.

2. Walking the Neighborhood/Working Out

Working out and being active is good for your body, but it’s also incredible for your mind. a complex chemical cascade occurs inside your body each time you go for a run, hit the gym, or participate in any other physical activity. This chemical cascade is responsible for several positive effects on your brain, like learning new skills, activities, and languages, regulating heart rate, sleep cycles, mood, attention, motivation, working memory, learning, and pain processing, and increases the oxygen supply to your brain which results in certain changes to the blood vessels of your brain, promoting potential improvements in executive function, which includes working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. 

In short, it’s a huge burst to my brain and my creativity.

3. Cooking

I have found that partaking in a creative hobby that uses your brain in a different way can be really helpful for staying creative. When I cook, I turn on some good music (my latest favorite playlist for your listening pleasure: Happy Jazz Music – Good Mood Bossa Nova and Jazz Music for Coffee Shop), I chop and cut and sing and savor. I let myself get lost in the mindlessness.  I have had major aha moments and work ideas when in the kitchen by myself cooking up a big bowl of love for my family. I highly recommend giving it a try!

4. Talking to Someone

There’s this concept in nature called “Kleptothermy”. The formal definition “Any form of thermoregulation by which an animal shares or steals the body heat of another animal. It may or may not be reciprocal.” Essentially, it’s taking someone’s body heat whether they like it or not! 

I use this approach and klepto my co-workers’ brain waves. When I’m stuck I pick up the phone and talk through the situation with someone I think can help and often it sparks something new, fresh, and different. Part of this is just working something through aloud, but other times it really does stem from collaboration. 

I hope this has been helpful! What are some ways you stay creative? Let us know in the comments below, I could always use some new ideas!

SOURCES

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31866855/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5705447/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6296269/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fncel.2019.00066/full

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535451/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5928534/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470306/

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