Rod Judkins is a multi-talented man. Not only is he a lecturer at Central St Martins, he’s a practising artist, author and consultant to many creative enterprises. What’s more, he’s taught me a thing or two, so I can highly recommend Rod’s advice – hence this guest blog post.
Rod recently put together 10 tips that CSM sent out to new students to get them in the right frame of mind for the start of college. I think we can all find them useful.
A new academic year is about to begin. As a lecturer I find that students need methods to unlock the creativity needed for their studies. Here are ten habits students would benefit from…
1. Turn fear into fuel: It’s natural to be apprehensive when embarking on a new venture. A writer starts with a blank page, an artist, a blank canvas, and a composer, silence. Successful writers and artists and musicians don’t have any less fear when staring into the unknown than anyone else. What distinguishes them is that they engage their fear. They turn anxiety into energy. Action transforms their fear into vitality. Fear becomes fuel.
2. Go further than too far: We all have a comfort zone in which we feel safe. Comfort is not stimulating but stifling. Step outside and be challenged and inspired. Try to be adventurous every day and it will become second nature. Only by going too far can you find out how far you can actually go. You can’t learn to swim if you insist on keeping one foot on the ground.
3. Be here now: The successful creative mind focuses totally on the task in hand. When daydreams, phone calls or emails disrupt your attention, you are prevented from concentrating fully. You need to create a situation where you have no choice other than to focus.
4. Be an extremist: How far can you take things? Be extreme, radical, intense and excessive. Whatever you are doing, push yourself and your work to the limit. Examine every aspect of your work. Then push them as far as possible. By going to extremes you break new ground. What can be exaggerated, overstated or understated? How would you approach your project if you had all the resources in the world, or no resources?
5. Question everything, everywhere, forever: Many problems arise from making assumptions. Questioning destroys assumptions. Ask questions of yourself constantly. You can learn more by looking for an answer than by finding it.
6. Find what you’re not looking for: To live creatively you have to surround yourself with things that interest you. It’s hard to be creative if you’ve got nothing to be creative with. If you start with nothing you have to invent everything from scratch. The more information you gather, the greater the resources for the formation of new ideas. Creative thinkers are collectors.
7. Keep going, even when you can’t: To achieve anything worthwhile takes persistence. It is a common belief that creativity is something you are born with and others can only envy. Wrong. Creativity is a skill that everyone can learn. People understand that to become skilled at tennis or skiing you have to put in hours of practice. The same is true of creativity.
8. It’s down to you: Successful creative people work wherever they are and however they feel. They don’t wait for ideal conditions because they may never happen. The perfect workplace or mood does not exist. Don’t let anything stop you from being creative, wherever you are and however you feel.
9. Stop making sense: In our life and work we often feel under pressure to do what is sensible. To live a creative life you need to be liberated from being sensible. Enjoy doing something for the pleasure of doing it. Not because it is the logical or rational thing to do. The purpose of doing something is the pleasure you get from doing it.
10. Create meaning not product: What is the meaning of your work? Creative people focus on the meaning of what they do. They ensure that what they do has significance for them and, therefore, for others. Their concern is to produce something worthwhile that has real human value. They care little for technique or slick effects.
Rod put 57 of these creative habits and methods into a book called CHANGE YOUR MIND: 57 WAYS TO UNLOCK YOUR CREATIVITY. More excerpts from the book are available on twitter@rodjudkins or www.facebook.com/changeyourmind57ways.
You can buy Rod’s book on Amazon.
My review of ‘Change your mind’ is here.