Ways to Boost Creativity and Conquer Creative FOMO

Written by Drew Palmer on January 9, 2017

As creative professionals, we’re always trying to improve our creative vision. How do we ensure we’re constantly finding new ways to boost creativity? We’re blessed and cursed with the ability to push our thinking to the next level for our clients. Blessed because we’re hired and paid for our ideas, and cursed because we need to learn to cultivate certain constraints to keep our clients’ best interests in mind.

We also find ourselves at the mercy of the client’s opinion, and it becomes our job to convince them why our ideas or solutions are good. In some cases, it’s easy to feel like the final product isn’t 100 percent our own. All of which makes for some major creative FOMO (fear of missing out).

This is when the term “creative freedom” becomes some elusive ideal that we never quite feel we can attain. I’m here to smother that.

Owning 100 Percent of Your Work

As creative professionals, we have the privilege and responsibility of owning 100 percent of what we do. This means never being jealous of another project, wishing you had a bigger budget or wanting a more open-minded client. It means constantly looking for new ways to boost creativity. It’s easy to make excuses when you let yourself get bored with your work. But truthfully, if you’re doing your job correctly, you should never be bored. You owe it to yourself and to your client (and your future prospects) to find a way to boost creativity and produce brilliant, creative work 100 percent of the time.

Some of the best ads I’ve seen have been for the most unlikely products or clients. For example, this Dyson vacuum ad is simple, clever and memorable. It delivers a clear message in a simple way. But, imagine the designer tasked with creating a vacuum ad … I bet they never saw it as a creative opportunity that would be talked about decades later.

Lessons in Creativity

There are a few things to remember during your creative process that will help boost your creativity:

  • You’re dispensable. If you don’t want the project, make no mistake: There’s always someone else who does. It’s harsh, but the reality is you’re not the only person your client could hire. As a freelancer, you’re always competing with other talented individuals. In an industry where most of your future work comes from referrals, you’re going to want to prove to your clients you’re completely committed. The goal is to be invaluable to every client you work with, and that means giving every project your all.
    When you’re not dedicated to a project, it’ll show in your work. It’ll also show in the way you interact with your client. Remember, it’s often not your past work or your resume that lands you a freelance project, but rather the excitement you share about the prospect of work. When that fades, client trust fades, and the task may just be handed to someone else. More times than I can count, I’ve been handed work that other designers have started.
  • Being different is memorable. It’s easy to be jealous of big agency budgets, fancy tech solutions and powerful ideas. As an agency worker, I’ve always got my thumb on the pulse of the biggest and the best work being produced. Historically, some of the simplest ideas with the most meager budgets have been the most memorable. You don’t need the biggest budget or the best technology to create something that stands out.
    It’s the simplest, most easily communicated ideas that create the most powerful messages. Your job as a creative is to sell an idea that is memorable. It can actually be beneficial when you’re not tempted with budgets that facilitate grand ideas or bombastic language, and are forced to keep your execution lean and simple so that your thinking and problem solving shines through. Doing so is one of the best ways to boost creativity.

When you trim the fat and truly think creatively, you’ll find yourself doing some of your best work. It’s our natural tendency to look for inspiration in other areas along the way, but in the process we can’t be tempted or dissuaded from our current projects. The more impressive your work, the more you can charge for it and the more exciting projects will come your way.

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