Creative work is a lot like a necklace with many different kinds of beads. Each and every bead represents a different medium in completion, but connecting them all is a single through-line. That through-line is the creative process. So take your metaphorical necklace, and pass your fingers over each bead until you land upon the sandcastle. How does building a sandcastle illustrate the creative process? Well, throw on your swimsuit, and lather on some sunscreen, because you’re about to find out.
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Build Your Sandbox (Parameters)
What if instead of making a sandcastle, you were told to do something without any guidance or direction? This does sometimes occur when creative tasks are given, especially when a client doesn’t have a clear idea of what they want. It’s important to nail down what it is you plan to do, so that you don’t find yourself wandering alone in the blackness of indecision.
Creativity works best with something to press against. What are the conditions, rules, or parameters that you must work within? When given this direction, you will find yourself (in a seemingly counter-intuitive way), free to create and produce good work.
List out the parameters of your project. This should include its goals, means, and the tools you have at your disposal to complete the project. This is your sandbox or beach, depending on where you are geographically located. Your list will help you figure out what it is you can do while also freeing up your mind to figure out what you will do.
Put in Your Sand (Possibilities)
No idea is too crazy, so throw it inside the box. You want to put seashells on the parapets of your castle? Why not? You want to dig a four-foot deep moat? It’s worth considering. You want to install actual cannons so you can demolish the sandcastles of your enemies? That would be so cool!
Coming up with ideas, no matter how off the wall they may seem, can lead to innovation and movement in what could otherwise be a stagnant or bland project. Letting your ideas flow without self-editing, without taking account of the plausibility or possibility of what can be done, opens you up to finding new and exciting ways to move forward with your creative project.
Once you’ve got a list of your ideas, and you are thoroughly excited about those cannons you want to put on your sandcastle, it comes time to pull back and look at what you can actually do. Be flexible and remain ambitious, but keep the budgetary and logistical landscape in mind when you find yourself scaling back the possibilities into a workable idea. This might mean compromising on some of the more exciting ideas you had. So maybe instead of cannons, you get some super-soakers instead.
See Your Castle (Visualize)
Once you’ve settled on your idea, start to outline or plan it out, so you can visualize how your project will turn out. This will give you a charted course to get you to the finished product, whatever that might be. For writers, this means a detailed outline. For videographers, a storyboard; and for building the coolest sandcastle this side of the Atlantic, that means coming up with a blueprint.
When coming up with your plan, think of it as a sort of skeleton that you can add onto over time. Get out the basic forms first, and then fill in with more details. This planning means you will go into the process of physically creating your project with most of the decisions on how to do so already made. This will also allow you to focus on the task at hand without being distracted, trying to figure out what to do next when one step is completed. Once you have a complete and doable plan of action, you can gather all of the necessary supplies to build the most formidable sandcastle around.
Now that you’ve got a plan laid out for your creative project, you’re ready to get started! But the creative process isn’t over by a long shot. In part two of this blog, you’ll learn about how to execute your creative vision while minimizing creativity killers, and maintaining the drive to reach completion.
Want to know more about CATMEDIA's creative process?
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).