Allow Yourself to be Surprised
All of us are flooded with information practically all the time. The competition for our attention is constant and sometimes aggressive. The number of books, articles, movies, TV shows, streaming services, and social media is overwhelming.
This is why reviews, trailers, excerpts, and ratings play an important role in consuming media, specifically creative works. With so many options, this seems like a reasonable thing to do. It might not be the best filter to apply, but it is the most accessible one, and often, it does the work.
But the more we know about what we are about to read or watch, the less surprised we allow ourselves to be. When you know, even in general terms, what a book is about before reading even its first page, you lose some of the wonder of finding it out for yourself. Detailed reviews set your expectations and prepare you for what you are about to experience. But surprise, discovery, and exploration are inherent parts of every experience. The more you know in advance, the less impact the experience has.
Save a special place in your read- or watch-list for something you know nothing about. You won’t be sorry.
Create Your Own Rules
Knowing the rules is part of being a professional. Anyone who ever learned to paint, photograph, dance, or write knows that. You start with the basics, with clear definitions that make everything fall in place. And you don’t just learn the rules in theory. You practice them, and you follow them. Until you don’t. At some point, any professional knows that sometimes you must break the rules. The next step after that is creating your own rules.
We are drawn to templates, familiar patterns, predefined practices, and proven schemes. Learning from the experience of others is a good practice, and reusing or applying things we know to work is undoubtedly the most efficient method of producing new things. We would rather not reinvent the wheel or start from scratch every time, and we certainly don’t want to fail where others have already learned how to avoid common pitfalls. But at some point, all these artificial rules are just not enough. At some point, we need something new to break through and create something nobody has made before. Or at least try to. If we strictly follow predefined rules and practices, breakthroughs will rarely happen.
Let Your Imagination Play
We often confuse curiosity with certainty — we confuse the importance of asking with the need to get the correct answer. We know questions drive us forward, but we want the answer to just pop immediately. We feel comfortable asking questions, but not being in a state of not knowing.
Enjoying not knowing does not mean favoring ignorance over knowledge. That would go against curiosity and will not allow any progress whatsoever. But delaying finding the answer (or deciding which questions can be left unanswered) makes curiosity a true trait of creativity.
The imaginative road is often slower than just searching for the answer online, but it has the value of exploring, imagining, and sometimes discovering an unexpected path leading to an outstanding creative result.