We're often given tools and ideas and then told to "be creative." Here's what you need to make that actually happen.
I was honoured to be asked by my friend Chad Jarnagin and the crew over at Luminous if I would participate in their blog tour to help promote their conference. I was more than happy to say yes! You can also read my post from the Luminous 2012 blog tour Space for Love.
“Here’s all the information, details and objectives – just do something creative!”
Ever heard that before?
If you’re involved in ministry or any field where your creativity and artistic ability are valued (whether or not that value comes through as an actual paycheck) you’ve probably been
asked instructed to just “do something creative.” Sounds easy enough!
The request comes from a good place and we shouldn’t fault people who expect and hope that we can be creative producers when it comes to planning church services, designing graphics, publishing articles or promoting events. Hopefully everyone who is part of an organization has the same desires and objectives – some of those people are good at assembling details and objectives, some of those people are good at creatively turning those details and objectives into a format which can be digested and experienced by the participants.
As someone who makes a living as one of these “creative producers” (I’ve been on staff as the director of worship at Compass Community Church since 2005 and have been leading worship as my main thing since the mid-90′s) I have had the opportunity to learn some things about how I as a creative leader am able to manage, understand and execute these requests.
So, for the sake of those of you who may be feeling restrained, hindered and suffocating within the creative limits and expectations of what you are being asked to do, let me give you three guidelines which can help every creative leader produce their work at the highest level of their capability.
1. Create space for creativity
I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy. We get it. Busy is the buzzword of our culture and we wear it like a golden badge of honour. Get over it. You’re as busy as you want to be. Want to be less busy? Say no. Want to be more effective?
Create space for creativity.
Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly – you must create space within your calendar for creativity.
Daily? Take a long hot shower where you can just let your mind daydream and go places it won’t while you’re sitting at your desk. To accomplish this you might need to get up 15 minutes early.
Weekly? Rest. Sabbath. Unplug if you have to. Create space one day a week where you stop doing the things you normally do. Be amazed at how a change of pace sends your creativity into overdrive.
Monthly? Take a day away where you look back and look ahead. How have you spent your time? your money? your creative energy? How do you want to spend it this month? Is there a big project coming up that you are feeling anxious about? Lay out some action steps you can take to help you cut that big project down into smaller pieces.
Yearly? Schedule a retreat or getaway where you can be on your own for a couple of days. You don’t need to be a hermit but maybe you do. Take a journal, your guitar, your canvas, whatever it is and get back to the love of the art which you may have lost in a year of demands and pressure.
2. Ask for space for creativity
Of course these may sound like great ideas to you but you have other people in your life who need to be on board with this – your spouse, your family, your boss, your co-workers. Ask for space. Be honest with your need for margin so that your creative production can go to the next level.
Asking for space also means being clear with people who are presenting requests to you that you need to work with details in a certain timeline. If this project needs to be done tomorrow it’s not a good thing for you to receive the information and instructions today. Be clear with expectations of timeline and ask others to work within the space that is needed.
3. Honour the space for creativity
Once you’ve created the space, asked for the space and the space has been given do not screw this up. Don’t waste the gift. Use it wisely. Honour the space for creativity by doing what you said you would do. Creating space and asking for space will produce no tangible result if all you do on your yearly creative retreat is play Xbox and eat Cheetos. Don’t be that guy.
Honour the space for creativity by working hard at stretching your creative muscle. If you said you’re going to sabbath weekly by doing things differently that day then do what you said you’d do. Take a real day off. Write a song just for the sake of writing a song. Paint a landscape because it’s beautiful. Design a CD cover for your imaginary debut album.
All of us have high demands on our life and producing creative results is no exception. The tools, software and resources we have at our fingertips means we can produce more with less cost, less time, less talent but we still need to be refilling our creative tank so that what we are producing achieves the objectives we’ve all set out to accomplish together.
Place these three guidelines in your life – create space for creativity, ask for space for creativity, honour space for creativity – and I promise that you will be able to produce your creative work at the highest level of your capability.