Creativity and What Ignites It

A lot of people ask me this question, “So, how do you create something that’s so unique? How do you write?” Well, it is difficult to give an answer that truly satisfies these questions. Probably because there is no fixed process that leads to creation. I draw inspiration from a range of things and creativity happens to be a result of them. I think it exists in all of us in varied quantities. It is how we harness it or how we amplify it that makes all the difference.

A few days ago, I wondered if it is the same for people who belong to the creative spectrum. So, out of sheer curiosity, I asked them their take on creativity and the place where they find the creative fuel. Here’s what they had to say –

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Maybe, it just happens. (Sourced image)

(Only first names for privacy purposes)

  1. Lucy, College Graduate, Australia

“Creativity for me means expressing oneself in a variety of ways. For different people that may mean different things; for one person it might be photography, another it might be a dance; the list goes on. It means having an outlet to communicate your feelings, experiences or views and putting that out into the world and contributing to creativity around you. There isn’t a set thing that makes me want to create something, but ultimately whatever it is it has to speak to me. With that being said, I would say visual things make me want to create as I can tangibly see what is front of me and then use that to describe or portray feelings. I also find that experiences in life that impact me profoundly can also ignite the desire to create.”

I also find that experiences in life that impact me profoundly can also ignite the desire to create.

2. Aisha, Writer, Michigan

“Creativity means a sense of liveliness and childhood to me. I feel like adults, we lose creativity and become too constructed. I create things, such as poetry and art, when I want to feel alive again and do something different to keep life interesting day-to-day.”

3. Taniya, Student of English Literature, Delhi, India

“For me, creativity is a way of expressing things that I am incapable of, otherwise. It is like a window into one’s soul. I often land up in a position where I become incapable of conveying my innermost feelings. Feelings which might not be acceptable or are too crucial to be spoken of. Such thoughts, over a period of time, become a burden that is needed to be lifted off the shoulders. This is the safest way to do it, create something that helps you out your thoughts across.”

4. Alen, Student, Kerala, India

“It is like catching a cold during a trip. Destroys your trip until you are healed. Most of the times, I stumble into it. Unknowingly, just like catching a cold.”

5. Orenda, Writer and Communications Officer, Canada

“Creativity is the embodiment of who I am as a human being – my likes and dislikes, who I care about, my experiences and in turn, how I see the world. I think it only takes any kind of inspiration, whether it be from watching a movie or a random thought in my head, to make me want to create something. We live in such an expansive universe, it’d be almost a shame to not create something because of it.”

We live in such an expansive universe, it’d be almost a shame to not create something because of it.

6. Sneha, Writer, India

“Creativity for me means freedom. I’m not confined to a box, I have an entire universe to create with.”

7. Fauziya, Writer and Aspiring Vocalist, Mumbai, India

“Creativity to me is like the smoke that has escaped into thin air. You wouldn’t know where it came from and where it went to, but it did have its effect on you. That profound effect that shakes you to the marrow of your bones. I never set out in search of a poem. I just sit back and let it come to me. Like a patient spectator, I watch my poems unfold in a haze of trance. And that’s the thing about creativity, it gives me the patience I never can practice otherwise.

Like a patient spectator, I watch my poems unfold in a haze of trance. And that’s the thing about creativity, it gives me the patience I never can practice otherwise.

Creativity, it is like a loyal dog who wanders the world, prances in the wild, barks at the edges of the mountains and then comes to me at the end of the day with a bagful of magical stories.”

8. Karishma, Writer, Mumbai, India

“I wish I could define creativity for you, but that’s the beauty of it. It can’t be arranged into perfect words that can cover all the corners it stretches to or sources from. For me, it only takes curiosity, experiences, and endless questions to create something. Maybe creativity lies in the constant quest of figuring things out. And expressing that same curiosity which moves people to reflect or ponder upon. At its core, my best guess to creativity is that it lies in the effort to establish a connection, and to communicate that connection furthermore.”

9. Savira, Student, Indonesia

“For me, creativity means showing your true colours without being afraid of being different or without trying to be like others. What makes me want to create something is anything that makes me feel, anything that makes me emotional.”

10. Carolyn, Student, Monmouth, United States

“Creativity for me is the byproduct of my passion and drive.”

11. Parth, Graphic Designer, Mumbai, India

“Creativity to me is liberation. Liberation of your thoughts caged inside your body for so long. Negative and positive thoughts both. Creative things can’t be discriminated as right or wrong. They’re just to be looked through some perspective. Good art doesn’t need to be liked or disliked. It has to be felt. Good art speaks for itself. Fear makes me create. The fear of being unproductive. The fear of achieving nothing. The fear of not expressing. The fear of wasting life on nothingness.”

12. Shreya, Account Head in an Advertising Agency, Surat, India

“Creativity is not restricting your colour only to the palette. Not limiting to dictionaries, when you are short of wordplay. Not setting benchmarks to your endless imagination.
Not obeying rules of ‘what has been going on’ and’ this has to be done this way’ Not seeing outside the box, but building shapes inside it. Not reading between the lines, but living through it. Not being a perfectionist, but doing things your own way. Not being someone else, but leaving parts of you in everything you do. The major impetus for me, for creating something, is to leave an imprint. That lets people connect, believe and question the obvious.  I want to let them introspect, I want to let them wander, I want them to be lost and then find themselves again.  In a new light, in a better version, every day.”

Indeed, the definition varies for everyone. But, there’s one thing that is similar; all of us have creativity in us in some way or the other. It is only about the fuel that inspires us to create something the world has never seen before.

Find your fuel. Create something.

(I am grateful to everyone who contributed to this, even the ones who are not on the list! Unfortunately, because of the word limit, I could feature only 12 people!)

Travel Tips For Your First International Trip! 

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International travel is exciting, and we are bound to make some mistakes here and there. While some mistakes could turn out to be quite memorable, some of them can ruin your entire trip. Hence, planning beforehand and being equipped for your journey is crucial. 

In case, you were planning on making a check-list, here’s one.

  • Get Travel Insurance

For everything that goes off, you know you’re covered. A travel insurance will cover cancellation fees, delayed/lost bags and medical expenses. So, you clearly don’t have an option of skipping this AT ALL!

  • Embrace The Culture

Travelling outside of your country is a massive change in culture; keep reminding yourself about it. A lot of people don’t accept the culture and miss out of the real essence of foreign travel.

  • Keep Yourself Hydrated

Since it’s an international tour, most of your day will keep you going from one place to another. You might be eating at intervals but don’t forget to take sips of water. Being dehydrated on a trip could cause headaches, and I am sure nobody likes that.

  • Don’t Pack Too Much

You’re likely to feel over-ambitious about your trip but be careful about what you carry with you. Ask yourself, ‘Are you REALLY going to need this?’ Especially when you are going to a country that is likely to be cold, don’t overwhelm your luggage with unnecessary thing like a fancy shirt or a dress. Your coat is going to hide it anyway. 

  • Download a Translator App

You enter a local store and realise nobody speaks in English. It’s likely to happen. Make sure you download a translator app beforehand, so you don’t miss on important communication.

  • Keep Your Valuables with You. ALWAYS.

“It’ll just take two minutes for me to take this picture. I’ll just keep my bag here.” The next moment, you turn around, and your bag has GONE. It’s a typical scenario in tourist places. So, never, ever, keep your bag away from you; especially when you’re carrying valuables like your passport.

  • Spend Less Time On Your Phone

It is indeed tempting to Snapchat everything you do to your friends but avoid it. Click pictures but don’t keep your eyes on your phone all the time. You might miss out on imbibing your surrounding or might become a pocket picker’s next target.

  • Carry a Small Backpack

I made this mistake on my trip to Europe. I carried two bags throughout my whole trip, and it always left me with back aches. If you’re a camera person, make sure you carry a bag that can accommodate everything you need while you’re on your feet – camera, passport, water bottle, and currency.

  • Carry A Universal Phone Charger

We were lucky enough to be provided a universal phone charger by our tour advisors but what if we were not? Different countries have different sockets. A universal charger is your saviour!

  • No Jewellery

Bling is no good when you’re on the go. If you STILL like it, carry fake jewellery. 

  • Shop But Only Little

A local market may lure you to take a bag of souvenir home, but it’s only going to make it difficult for you later. A good idea is to buy more stuff towards the end of your trip, so you don’t have to carry it around everywhere.

  • Carry ID-proofs and their copies

Apart from your passport copies, keep a copy of your national ID handy.

  • Keep Cash in Different Places

Stuff some in your suitcase, some in your backpack, and some (very little) in your pocket.

  • Google If You Are Not Sure

Asking a local for directions is a pretty cool idea but don’t rely on it. You can never be sure of how sure they are.

  • Be Alert in Museums and Art Galleries

The most visited places are the ideal places for you to lose your valuables. Avoid keeping your phone in your back pocket and more careful about your passport. Passports are more likely to get stolen than cash.

  • Don’t Come Across As A First-timer

Avoid looking clueless and instead, come across as an experienced traveller. Looking like a first-time traveller will make you prone to being fooled.

  • Check Hotel Reviews

Hotel websites and photos are pretty darn cool, but hey, that’s the hotel authority talking on it. Instead, check for customer reviews (not on their website) to get an idea of how good or bad the place is. 

  • Keep Someone You Trust in Loop

If you’re travelling alone, it is ideal to keep someone from your friends or family updated about your whereabouts. Messaging them in the morning and night is not a big thing on the to-do-list and you can definitely do that.

  • Carry Extra Medicines and First-Aid

Even if you don’t have any health issues, it’s safe to carry some meds for headaches or stomach aches. If your doctor has prescribed a particular medicine to you, do not fail to carry extra meds along. It often becomes challenging to find a particular medicine in foreign stores. And, you don’t want to take that risk.

  • Add Extra Batteries and Memory Cards

My batteries got damaged on one of my trips, and it was the worst thing ever! You don’t want to go through that pain. Trust me. 

  • Dress According to The Day

See what your day looks like a night before and dress as per the occasion. There are certain rules in museums, temples, etc. that may hamper your travel plans. When you’re not sure, wear something that’s decent and doesn’t come across as showy. Also, check for the weather a night before.

  • Be Ready to Adjust

A glitch here and there is bound to happen despite the precautions, so be ready to adjust. Don’t expect too much and go with the flow. A foreign trip always turns out to be a memorable one. 

Do you have something to share too? Comment below and let me know. Happy holidays!

Liked this? Read about my experience in Europe here.

The only thing you should break this year is monotony

 

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Same old, same old? Not this year. Image source.

I’ve been seeking inspiration for a while now. Being a creative professional, to keep your creative juices flowing all the time is taxing. But, I am not complaining and that’s not the problem I am scared of. The real villain is someone else. It’s monotony.

Routine is fine but not being stirred enough to create something new is dangerous, especially when you’re in the creative field. The lack of inspiration that arises from doing the same tasks every day makes it more difficult for you to craft new ideas. Before it takes a toll on our lives, here are some things you must incorporate into your routine to keep monotony at bay.

One new thing, every day

It is not as difficult as it sounds. A busy schedule is no excuse for making no room for new things. However, this might need some planning. Plan a day before – what’s that one new thing you are going to do tomorrow? It could be something simple. Trying out a new place. Having lunch at a different spot. Change in music. A conversation with someone new. A different flavour of coffee. A game of tennis. Driving to a new restaurant. You get the drill.

The day-cutter

It sounds odd, but it is interesting. Cut your day in the middle and eat inspiration. How do you do that? It’s simple. A 10-minute break can be utilised in multiple ways. Carry a book to work that deals with something that has nothing to do with your life. A book on biology, economics and so on. Read up on a subject that is worlds apart from what you do. It gives you a different perspective and is a good distractor in the middle of the day. If you are not a reader, engage in videos. YouTube is a huge library of interesting subjects. Watch a travelogue. It inspires like nothing else.

Off work? Create something

No doubt, you are creating something at work. But, once at home, make some time to create something for yourself and this time – it doesn’t have to serve a purpose. It could be anything – a paragraph on a person you met, poetry, food, a song or whatever you are capable of. Doing this every day might be difficult but make sure you do this once in a while. It ensures monotony doesn’t get too close to you. Besides, there is no harm in doodling a dog.

Inspiring stories every week

You can literally thrive on this part. I have, for the longest time, made it a point to introduce new inspiring stories to my life, time and again. Everyone can give you a piece of inspiration if you listen. It can be your colleague, your boss or an old friend. If nothing, you can find books and movies that deal with inspiring stories. The last movie that inspired me the most was “Steve Jobs” and the book was “Damn Good Advice” by George Louis. Be hungry for stories. It will never make you feel uninspired.

Find a purpose

This part could be the most difficult or the easiest one to do. But, once you have it, there’s no way monotony will make your life its home. Look for a purpose in what you do every day. It should be something that drives you to wake up and get to work. A purpose to create something. A purpose to bring a change. A purpose to get better. This year, find a purpose and kick monotony out of your life.

Let 2017 be a year full of new things. Let it be everything but monotonous.

Reach More People on Instagram!

Brand or no brand, you are definitely selling something online. Instagram is currently the most popular brand selling tool and has more than 400 million daily users. As messages are getting more visual, Instagram happens to be an ideal way of telling a story. Unfortunately, organic reach is becoming more difficult as paid content is slowly taking over the internet. But, there are still multiple ways to reach a wider audience without having to pay for a post.

Here’s how –

  1. Timing

Instagram is definitely not a place to be random. You need to understand the demographics of your audience, understand their most active period and stick to a timeframe. Usually, early mornings (when people leave for work), late evenings (when people are heading home) and late nights are ideal timeframes to post. Most Instagram users are super active during these periods since they are usually looking for ways to kill time. Experiment with a few posts to find what time suits you the best!

  1. Hashtags – Relevant and Irrelevant

Hashtags might not look appealing under a post but skipping them is a BIG mistake most people make. Here’s the thing – social media thrives on hashtags. They exist for you to reach more people who have similar interests. So, based on the kind of content you post, look for hashtags that people commonly use. It’s the best method to reach a global audience and to get more followers. Apart from using brand based hashtags, you can also opt for some hashtags that are the most used ones on IG right now. No harm in reaching more screens, right?

  1. Engage with your audience

Statistics reveal – posts with a question or a CTA automatically do better on Instagram. Moreover, it’s a good practice to engage in a conversation with your followers on a daily basis to keep them involved. Brands follow this method on a constant basis to find new followers and to keep the conversation going.

  1. Strike a Conversation with Similar Accounts

Using the ‘Explore’ option or with the help of your most used hashtags, look for people who share similar content. This practice works well if you want to get more people to visit your profile or to just discover new people. A conversation goes a long way in growing your audience and is one of the most used practices on Instagram. However, don’t come across as a bot and make sure you customise your messages for every account. You don’t want to look like a stalker, do you?

  1. Be Consistent

If there’s one thing that can do wonders for your Instagram account, it’s consistency. The more active you are on Instagram, the more people see you. If you post at night, stick to it. Don’t go off-track and confuse your audience about who you are. Consistency designs your Instagram personality and that’s something you must seek.

  1. Be Careful With Your Content

It doesn’t take more than 4 seconds for a person to decide if an account must be followed. So, what makes them click the button? Your feed. Before you post on Instagram, think of how it will look on your feed. Random pictures are a BIG put off, to be honest. Thanks to Instagram stories, you can now share your life updates with your followers and that saves your feed from looking random. So, all your breakfast and office pictures can take a back seat and you can save them for your stories. IG places a high value on accounts that have a carefully planned feed. So, make sure you hit the bull’s eye.

  1. Don’t Skip The Bio

You might want to look ‘carefree’ by not adding a bio but if you’re doing that – you’re making a mistake. A bio only adds value to your profile and is a must for everyone who wants to reach more audience. Write something that truly tells your audience about who you are. There is no need of adding your birth date because nobody cares. But, make sure you tell them what you do. A simple, honest one-liner works well.

Here are some interesting stats about Instagram that might help you plan your content well.

  • Posts with a location receive 79% more engagement
  • Posts that include another handle gain 56% more engagement
  • Top five hashtags – #love, #me, #instagood, #follow, #cute
  • Posts with a question increases engagement
  • On Instagram, images featuring blue as the dominant colour generate 24% more Likes than images that are predominantly red.
  • On Instagram, images with a high amount of negative space generate 29% more Likes than those with minimal negative space.

Stat source –

http://www.blog.hubspot.com
http://www.brandwatch.com

Of course, these tricks make sense ONLY if your account is public. Hope they help you reach more people. Comment below and let me know what you think. Happy Instagramming!