I had a few conversations with colleagues this week who (coincidentally) wanted to make a change in their professional practice by doing more work in advocacy and social justice. They clearly felt this was the direction they wanted to pursue, but they weren’t quite sure how to proceed.

This is the way a creative impulse feels. It often begins as a yearning - the feeling of longing coupled with a general sense of direction, but without the clarity.


I have a suggestion:  gain clarity by taking the ideas that accompany those feelings and “thingify” them. How? Give them form. You can begin with something as simple and straightforward as a list. But I suggest you go a little further and create an array of Post-Its. Or you can go even further (if you’re inclined toward playful risk-taking) and sculpt your ideas free-form with clay to see what comes out the other end.

(I suspect most of you feel comfortable with the first 2 suggestions, but a little queasy about the 3rd. Right?)

Whichever you choose, the point is to get your ideas out of your head and into the world by giving them material form. The process of forming engages you in a way that’s different from the mental world of imagining. In forming, the rubber meets the road, your ideas take shape. And you’re free to play with the shape your ideas take, especially when you work with materials that are movable (Post-Its) or pliable (clay).

The trick is to use something flexible enough to give you the freedom to explore and rearrange, while not so unfamiliar that you get scared (that’s what I meant by the queasiness about the clay). In time, you’ll gain comfort representing your ideas in more radical ways. But for the time being, just “thingify” them in whatever material allows for some degree of manipulation.

I talk more (and demonstrate) how to do this in Lesson 2 of my free email/video course, More Creative in 5 Days. That lesson gives a basic introduction to design thinking. Some of you have already signed up for the course, but for those of you who haven’t, you can do so here.

Just remember:  thingifying is the first step for getting ideas out of your head and into the world.

From there, anything’s possible.


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