Working in a creative field, my philosophy regarding both the creative and business sides usually revolves around research, instinct and trying things. For me, those idea-starters generally work. But there’s always a lull or a failure, and as much as we know to use those lulls or failures as learning points to pivot to bigger and better ideas, how to do that isn’t always clear.  As I’ve mentioned many times, one of my favorite resources last year was the book Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind put out by Behance.  A contributor to the book, as well as an author himself (see: The Accidental Creative), Todd Henry‘s portion revolved around the idea of “unnecessary creativity.”

In this article from 99u, Henry talks about what “unnecessary creativity” means and how it can help you overcome these lulls and get back to creating for ourselves.

A few key qualities of “Unnecessary Creation”:

  • You set your own agenda.
  • You have permission to try new things and develop new skills.
  • You can take as much or as little time as you need to get it right.
  • You can stretch yourself, explore fringe ideas that intimidate you, and make things that no one but you will ever see.
  • If you fail, it’s no big deal.

I like ALL of these ideas. So, I’ve tried to incorporate more of them into my everyday schedule so that I’m always doing something that isn’t necessarily the focus of any specific project. Henry had a couple of suggestions, like Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” (writing three pages of unfiltered anything, first thing in the morning) – which I tried last summer when I was in Costa Rica, as a way of journalling my days. I was…not great at it. Three pages felt too long or what I was writing didn’t feel like the right story (completely beside the point if you’re just trying to write your three pages and get out, which is the idea). So, it’s a try, fail, try again process for me.

Here’s what I’m doing:

1. Take a course on Lynda.com – a great resource. I took a course on Adobe Premiere Pro, and next up I’m getting re-acquainted with Adobe Illustrator. No doubt, this is a class, but you have to create as you go, and with no specific goal, I was free to digitally splice away.

2. Doodle. Click for a sample. Nope it’s not great. I’ve also taken a couple of Skillshare classes (the results, or mid-results of which I’ve previously posted) that center around the doodles and have helped develop a better sense of how words and images can work together. This is probably the most fun I’ve had “unnecessarily creat[ing].”

3. Curate a Moodboard. It seems like the in thing right now, but it gives me an opportunity to use Adobe Photoshop and online resources to better illustrate my pitch concepts. Here’s one I just started this morning with some basic concepts.14mood

4. Blog! Too obvious? Updating this blog, however irregular, helps me keep track of where I’m at creatively and also where the industry is at. What I post here for inspiration is also what I occasionally include as reference pieces in pitches.

5. Morning Pages. Ok, I’m going to try this again. When I said I tried morning pages before, I came at it sort of like journalling, which may be the point, maybe not – I think this just depends on how you want to use your three pages. When my notebook was stolen at the end of the, including a few solid days of morning pages, I felt a little vulnerable and stopped writing them. It’s taken me a few months to get over it, so…we’ll see where that goes.

What do you think about “unnecessary creativity” – do you think it helps over those work-related highs and lows? What does it look like in the type of work you do?



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