Three ways not to short-circuit the creative process

I used to think creativity simply required talent.

Not anymore.

After over 30 years in the creative field, I’ve discovered that effective creative expression takes much more than talent; it also takes legit time, serious focus, hard work and tenacity.

When you fail to see an idea or concept through to its best possible expression, you run the risk of failing rather than nailing it. You’re in danger of short-circuiting the creative process before you’ve even gotten started.

Here are three ways not to short-circuit the creative process.

No. 1: Be realistic about the amount of time needed to make it great

Like many of the ingredients of a gourmet meal, good ideas need time to marinate, brew, simmer. Giving your ministry communications or creative arts team adequate time and space to play with a concept simply results in a much stronger outcome. Always.

Rushing creative gestation only leaves you with very weak concepts and elements.

No. 2: Crave and gather positive and negative feedback

Let’s be real. Sometimes our ideas are not as great as we think they are. One of the keys to the creative process is to circulate ideas for input. Feedback offers fresh eyes and ears to zoom in on potential problems.

You certainly don’t need to incorporate every bit of feedback you receive, but when you bypass feedback altogether, you’re taking unnecessary risks. So open up and invite honest feedback. Then, don’t act like a prima donna when it stings. Embrace it. Own it. Value it!

No. 3: Look beyond your first few easy ideas

When you are catering to an eager client, it’s tempting to run with your first idea or their top pick. But if you haven’t cycled your concept through a number of revisions, then it’s likely that the idea simply won’t be all that compelling.

For ideas to become compelling, it takes time. There is no way around it. Having worked with some of the best creatives on the planet, I’ve learned that even they have to work and rework their ideas, over and over and over, until they get it right.

When you see a great idea, it has likely taken form over time, because it’s been pulsed through a great team for feedback, and then strengthened by numerous revisions.

So, go let creativity flow freely and resist short-circuiting the creative process.


Have you seen an idea or concept short-circuited? How do you get a concept back on track when it happens?

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