MATTEO DALL'OMBRA

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Staying Creative

September 7th, 2012

Today I want to set a new challenge for myself. It’s a new writing challenge and I hope you’ll like it as muc as I do. Allow me to explain myself better. I’m a follower of the Read & Trust Network, which is a place that gathers together some of the best independent writers on the web. They used to publish a newsletter with original content from those author but they recently moved towards a monthly-magazine format.

The general style is still the same, with authors writing about a specific topic every issue. Since the headings are always very entertaining, I’ve decided to try for myself. Every month I’ll write a piece as if I was one of the member of the team (it would be incredibly exciting) and I’ll see how it goes.

I’m already behind schedule because they are now at issue number 01, but I will start anyway from 00 and I’ll catch up as quickly as I can to then set myself on the same pace.

The first topic then is Staying Creative and here is my personal recipe.


I consider myself to be a creative person. Or at least this is how I label all the “work” that come from my mind and goes public. I always had a difficult time in focusing on just one thing, always trying to look for the next step and the one after, before being done with the start. Even now writing this article I have a Twitter stream on the background, some music and Photoshop open with an unfinished retouch. If by nature I found impossible to stay focused on one thing, technology sure doesn’t help. There are plenty of distraction around us. Just look at you pocket, you probably have your smartphone which is constantly asking for your attention with a sound or a buzz or a combination or both. Or your laptop with multitasking features and several windows open.

For some this is the end of productivity. For me is a blessing. Not spending too much time on a single task has always been my way to stay creative. I have to try different things and I have to try them at the same time. Doing so I learned or discovered new combinations, new ways to see two separate things as one and take the best from the combination.

You have to try different things to know where you can excel or where you can improve. And since creativity is with us 24/7, being creative could mean everything: from the way in which you prepare your coffee to way in which you walk and talk.

That’s why I can’t give you a recipe to stay creative, because if I do so I would lie. There’s no such thing as a recipe. The only thing that I can give you is my experience and from there you can see if it does fit with your personality or not. But if it doesn’t don’t be discouraged: you are probably much more creative in something I’m not. You have to try.

So..where were we? Oh yes, my experience.

I keep my brain always on and I try to capture as many detail as possible from things that happen around me. It can be something that I’ve read or something that I saw or listened to: almost everytime I’m inspired by other people’s work.

The next step is to try to collect this inputs and merge them together into something that I like. To works for me it doesn’t have to always be 100% innovative and original, if it transpire from where I got the idea is fine for me. The only real requirement it has to have always to be considered by me is that I have to like it. I know that this could sound strange but it’s very important that I like the output. It can be a masterpiece in its genre but if I don’t like it, it gets thrown into the bin.

The other important element for me it’s the channel I use to put my ideas through. For a matter of convenience it’s always a digital channel because than it’s easier to share the result with the world. But even if I own a variety of digital devices I still need some paper around. I own a little Moleskine journal from where many times a new idea started. The story for a book, the idea for a post or a particular picture I want to take. In some occasion paper is still quicker than digital for me.

Despite all these beautiful words, it’s not that easy to stay creative, because lack of motivation or free time, frustration or hundreds of other factors can kick in blocking everything. And I mean everything.

It has already happened to me to be “blocked” by something for some time, so how do you get out from a situation like that? For me the only solution has always been to take long walks while listening to some music. This practice helped me several times to light a new sparkle deep in my mind. Why? Because I’ve noticed that after a while, eveng if I have music in my ears, I stop listening to music and I start to listen to my mind. I’ve always considered this as a great gift. If you can listed truly to your mind you’ll always find something new and unexpected waiting for you.

So I guess that the “lesson” that you can learn from here is that you should always stay active and never just “sit and wait”, because unless your name is Isaac Newton, ideas won’t fall on you from a tree.