Last week I watched 6 Days to Air – a documentary about the making of an episode of South Park. Unlike most animated TV show, which have weeks or months to make a single episode, South Park does it, from initial concept to writing to animating, all in six days. My favourite aspect was getting a look at the creative process the entire team follows to ensure they can deliver the final episode at the end of the week. This got me thinking about my own creative process and various tweaks I can make to work smarter, be more consistent, and keep myself moving forward.
What is the Creative Process
The creative process is the way you go about reaching your final product, it could be a TV show, a painting, a photograph, a story, whatever it is that you make. After doing something for a while you begin to notice patterns, for example, I know that if I have a meeting outside of my office (home) in the middle of the day, I almost never get back into the groove of work. So if I want to be productive I should try not schedule a meeting then. After a while, all these little factors, from when you wake up to what music you listen to while working, make up your creative process. Everyone’s process is different, but the goal is to find what circumstances will contribute to helping you create the best thing you can.
Figuring Out Your Creative Process
Finding what works best for you won’t happen overnight. One of the best ways is to look at days you’ve been very productive and ones when you haven’t at all. With days you were productive look for patterns. Did you wake up early or late? Did you work from home or from a coffee shop? Did you work alone or with someone else? Did you work on a computer or just with a notebook? If something continually pops up, try making a habit of fitting it into your regular schedule. On the other hand, if there are things that continually distract you – mobile phone alerts, checking your email in the morning, perhaps that annoying ticking clock, try to eliminate them.
For myself, I know that I can work for several hours straight on a task in the morning but start getting impatient after lunch. Answering emails in batches is more convenient than doing it as they come in. And brainstorming with a notepad is more fruitful than doing so on my iPad (also I write better on my iPad than on my computer). This is constantly changing as I discover new things about the way I work and do different types of work. Be weary when people make grand claims like waking up early makes you more productive, I know plenty of people that work through the night and get up late. Only you can figure out exactly what works for you!