(GUEST POST: Today I’m excited to share with you a guest post from Jackson Dame. Jackson is a young writer I’ve been following over the past few months who blogs at JacksonDame.com. He’s in the process of self-publishing his first book Ex Materia about the impact of faith on creativity. I jumped at the chance to have him write a guest post here on the blog so that you can learn more about him. Check it out and be sure to check out the Kickstarter page for Jackson’s new book to see how you can support this up-and-coming author.)
A couple of years ago I couldn’t come up with a good idea to save my life.
I wanted to exercise my creativity, but it was almost as if I had none. Was I really cut out to be creative?
Fast forward to today, and I’ve never been more confident in my ability to generate ideas and execute them with excellence. What changed?
Well, a lot of things, but overall it was one crucial action. And it was an action that I discovered while I was reading my Bible of all things.
My faith actually taught me that I was skipping over the first and most important part of the creative process: consuming. Allow me to explain.
Where does it all begin?
In the beginning of Genesis, we see the creation account or, as I like to call it, “God’s Creative Process”.
People once used the phrase “ex nihilo” to describe how God created the world. It’s a Latin phrase that means “out of nothing.” God can create out of nothing.
You and me, however, we can’t create out of nothing. We are limited to creating out of other things. This is what I like to call “ex materia” creativity. It’s the process of creating out of material or work that has come before you
I used to have trouble being creative because I wasn’t consuming the stuff that other people were creating. I had next to no inspiration. So, when it came time for me to be creative, I always felt like I was stuck.
I was skipping the first step in the creative process (consuming), and I was trying to create out of nothing.
I learned the hard way that if you aren’t being a good consumer, you won’t be a good creator.
How to start consuming
If we have to consume in order to create, than how exactly do we consume? What does it look like?
It’s not a 30-day process, and it’s not a quick fix, but it does offer real results.
Start with what you enjoy doing. Are you a photographer? Follow some of the most talented and successful photographers. Consume their work. Understand it.
Are you a writer? Then start reading books and articles written by people with similar interests.
Look at what other people are creating and be inspired by it.
What happens next?
It’s not enough though to passively consume other people’s content and work. As you are consuming it, you have to digest it.
Just as the body needs to digest food in order to gain nutrients and food, we as creators must also digest the work and inspiration that we consume.
What does this look like in practice? Watch a movie and analyze the character dynamics. Observe the editing techniques.
Get a book club started and discuss ideas with your peers.
As you consume and digest, you will learn and grow.
Ask lots of questions, even if there aren’t any obvious answers. Creative ideas are born in the midst of uncertain circumstances.
Wait patiently for the creative harvest
Consuming and digesting content won’t fix creative block overnight. They are actions that must be taken on a regular basis. After all, creativity is a lifestyle, not an action.
You may not see the results of your consuming today, but I can guarantee you that the seed has been sown and is growing behind the scenes.
We must be patient with it.
Now, start creating
Back when I was struggling as a creator, my problem was that I was skipping the first step in the creative process. Other people, however, get stuck on the consumption stage and never move past it.
Gathering inspiration and material to create out of is pointless if you never get started. It might be tempting to wait for ideal conditions or until you’ve learned more, but that’s simply an excuse to procrastinate.
Here are 3 steps that you can take today to be more creative:
1) Consume something.
2) Digest something.
3) Make something.
And when you’re done with that, start over.
Remember, creativity is impossible without material and inspiration. We create “ex material”. What we sow is what we reap.
What have you been sowing?
Did you know that faith and Christianity are extremely relevant to the creative process? So much so that I wrote a book about it. It’s called Ex Materia: How Faith Can Unleash Your Creativity in a World Where Nothing is New.
I’m currently running a Kickstarter campaign to get the book self-published, and I would love for you to check it out and consider supporting. Thanks for reading!