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Monday, April 12, 2010

Creativity on Demand

Tonight, as I sat down to write this, I felt I had writers' block. Yes, I know some people deny the existence of writers' block, or at least discourage the use of the term, and I can understand their point, but the fact is, whether you're writing or doing something else, it can be very difficult to be creative on demand.

This difficulty is something I know pretty well, both as a blogger, and at my job. Working in social media demands a certain amount of constant creativity- if you turn it off, you risk losing your audience. And since in the business world your audience is often your customers, that's not a good thing.

Mind you, I don't think it's ever good to think of social media solely as playing to an audience. It's about connecting to people and interacting with them (see this blog post for my views on social media). But when you are acting as a company and not an individual, the divide between you and the people you interact with is greater, and there is very much a sense that your company is in the spotlight. And as everyone knows, when you're in the spotlight, you're expected to perform.

So how do you keep up a performance day in and day out? I think the most important thing is that you truly believe in what is you are presenting, be it a company, a product, or yourself. People crave genuineness, and that's something that can't be faked. If you have to fake it, you might as well give up now, because sooner or later you will slip up, and if you aren't genuine, you won't be able to recover.

Likewise, you should play to your strengths. I've sometimes been told that you should "write what you know" and I think this is a broader way of expressing the same thought. Are you good at understanding others? How about interpreting other people's ideas? Do people find you funny? Is your gift with words, paint, or some other medium? Find what you're good at, and let it shine.

But at the same time, it's important to be willing to step outside your comfort zone. In fact, I believe that its when you're outside your comfort zone that you're the most creative. It requires you to think on your feet, and to draw on all your strengths. Maintaining creativity is about finding a balance of pushing what you're capable of without going so far that you fall off the edge.

I'm not sure where I'm going with all this, except that I sat down to write today with no topic on my mind. I do know the challenges of having to be creative even at times you don't feel like it, and will be the first to admit that I sometimes (okay, often) fail to rise to the challenge.  That being said, a lapse in creativity can be forgiven; a refusal to be genuine can not.

(I really need some sort of tag-line to end my posts with)

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