Motivation: the secret ingredient of creativity

All of us that work (or want to work) in the creative industry, go through a phase where we have many doubts. “The Gap” is what Ira Glass calls it. We begin by falling in love with the industry because we understand what’s good and what’s bad. We know what we like and what we consider good, but then… when we try our hand at it, what we create isn’t as good (or simply isn’t good enough by our standards).

For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.

Ira Glass

In audiovisuals we’re hit by a torrent of examples with high standards, even when we just want to watch a movie for entertainment purposes. There goes our confidence down the drain. How can we reach the same level, when we don’t have a specialized team working with us? How can we reach that level in our contents and our technique?

Of course this applies to all other areas of the creative world. As beginners, not only do we feel like our work doesn’t match our ambitions, but often times we feel like it is missing the differentiating factor and our own voice.

And when it comes to that we go look for creativity. But… we’re back to the gap.

They say we’re creatives. We know know we’re creatives… but we can’t set ourselves apart from the rest. Then how do we find that dose of extra creativity and keep ourselves motivated?

“THE GAP by Ira Glass” directed by Daniel Sax

First of all: Don’t quit!

Accept that your first ideas are going to suck. We tend to think that creatives have genius ideas all the time, but that’s not really how it works. The times we fail in the beginning are part of the process and we should learn how to deal with it so that our motivation isn’t affected.

Write down all the ideas, have deadlines and… don’t quit!

Often times we have a genius idea when we’re close to our deadline. And even if it’s a personal project, without a real deadline, it will be difficult to finish it if we don’t have defined goals, because we don’t force ourselves to do it. And without goals, we lose the motivation to keep going.

We should write down all of our ideas, even the silly ones. On top of that, learning new techniques and being on the lookout for what others are doing is all part of the creative process. New approaches, new points of view, and new techniques, lead us to new ideas! (Even though they might give us some frustrations and make us scream inside “why can’t I do something like that too?”).

The video “WsKA: Creating Pioneers”, not only is a source of inspiration by itself, but also portrays the creative process. Main idea we should keep in mind: the life of a creative is a vicious circle of failing and starting all over again!

WdKA: Creating Pioneers” – Concept, copy, design and production by the design studio From Form.

Leaving the virtual world

Turning off the computer helps to refresh ideas. Travelling, visiting new places and listening to music helps us broaden our horizons and keep an open mind. We must go beyond our limits, think outside of the box. All of it will help us in this process.

… and being social in real life

Being in contact with other people, collaborating with them, asking for feedback, can help us get to that winning idea. Afterall, two heads think better than one. And there’s nothing better than realizing whether our idea works for other people or not (working in our heads only isn’t enough).

Looking for inspiration and stealing ideas

When it comes to videos, the best place to go is vimeo. In addition to the videos chosen by the staff, we can join themed groups that match our tastes. This is where many ideas are born and often times we get an urge to steal others. And why not do it? The best way to learn something is to emulate what is well done. And, of course, it’s never going to be a copy! It’s impossible for us to not give the project we’re working on our special touch.

Break the rules

Which ends up being a constant, since the daily life of a creative isn’t routinely. And while developing a project: should we go with white? Let’s try black this time! (And when it comes to audiovisuals there are many rules that deserve to be broken. We’ve provided some examples of that here.)

For the more serious cases of procrastination…

And because sometimes we just don’t know where to begin. Concrete tips applied to audiovisuals: look for challenges! We’ve already talked about Loop de Loop, an animation challenge. In the field of video there’s the weekend challenge from vimeo. Not only does it stimulate our creativity, it puts it side by side with that of other creatives from all over the world, who, with the same theme, had completely different approaches to the challenge from us.

More on the Motion Graphics and 3D side, what I do is look for references that I like and try to copy them to understand how they were created. Following tutorials helps us evolve and allows us to use new techniques in our future works. When it comes to tutorials, the deadlines tip also comes into play! Without a learning calendar to abide by we’ll most likely become neglectful and eventually quit.

Creativity takes Courage

Creativity requires courage. And, of course, none of these tips works if there’s no motivation. Brilliant ideas don’t come out of first attempts, and if we quit we won’t go anywhere. Being a successful creative is simple: work hard every day and never give up!

Andreia Calhau

Even with a sleepy face, she’s always ready for a challenge. Highly proactive and full of “scalabis” culture. Audiovisual is her thing and her inspiration sources are endless: from shorts films on Vimeo to the one and only Justin Timberlake.

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