In January I took part in ’31 Days of Creativity’ – an email challenge from Hel and Lesley Reynolds at Comms Creatives to help comms professionals flex their creative muscle.
“Each day, you’ll do a simple creative task that will take you between 1 and 15 minutes. You’ll do things like: taking a creative photo, writing a short poem on a particular topic, trying out a new app, taking a quiz about your own creativity, or scribbling a little diagram on paper.”
Opening the challenge in my inbox each morning and see what the Creative Comms duo had in store for us brought a brightness to my day. What appealed about the email challenge was it was something quick we could do every day. So while the commitment was long in terms of the challenge running for a month, only a small daily chunk of time was needed. And on days when I was too swamped with client work, I didn’t need to feel bad if I didn’t get to the challenge.
What I learnt
1. Practice divergent thinking
Having a degree in illustration and a career in marketing communications means that I’m no stranger to creativity. But like so many others, and especially as a solo business owner, I sometimes feel that I stay working in the same trusted ways.
Divergent thinking is a method used to generate many different ideas about a topic in a short period of time. It can be a useful tool to practice, as in a nutshell it is brainstorming many possible solutions to a problem. And not worrying about how daft they may initially seem.
– Attaching to suitcase to easily identify your case on an airport luggage belt
– Tying your legs together to go on to win a three-legged race
– An arm sling
– Carry holder for a rolled up yoga mat
– Resistance training band
– Applying pressure to a bleeding wound
— Alison Hadley (@AHadley_Bristol) January 9, 2020
2. Don’t worry about the outcome, just get on and do
I spotted pretty early on that my immediate reaction to many of the email challenges was “Oh gawd, I’m not sure whether I can do that….” But then I did it. And shared it on Twitter using the #31DaysOfCreativity hashtag. Stop with the self-limiting beliefs already!
It was often pretty exciting to find out where a challenge would lead – to not do any thinking beforehand or to formulate a plan. To play. To have fun with the process and not be concerned with the result.
3. Play with creative tools
There are loads of free online tools and software out there to creatively share your messages – such as photo collage maker Photofunia where you can write in alphabet spaghetti, Kapwing to make videos, or even mystery novel generators to write a plot in seconds.
— Alison Hadley (@AHadley_Bristol) January 6, 2020
Today's #31DaysOfCreativity challenge: make your own absurd mystery story 😂
So without further ado, I introduce 'The Crumpled Piano': After attending a funeral, Flora has some startling questions about her past… pic.twitter.com/FyihCM365i
— Alison Hadley (@AHadley_Bristol) January 13, 2020
4. Take time to reflect
Scientific research has shown that gratitude can lead to better creative problem solving and I liked this quick approach to practicing gratitude.
Still catching up and in the wrong order… Day 3 of #31DaysOfCreativity: #7ThingsThatMakeMeSmile 😊😊😊
A GREAT cup of coffee ☕
Resisting a second biscuit
Ticking off another item on my to do list
Getting out for a walk
Cute woofers 🐺🦮🐶
Completing a room 🔨
— Alison Hadley (@AHadley_Bristol) January 6, 2020
5. Community is important
Sharing the challenge outcomes with others on Twitter using the #31DaysOfCreativity hashtag and in turn seeing how others interpreted the brief was interesting and inspiring. So often in thee types of group settings you can feel your efforts aren’t as good as other peoples. But this challenge didn’t feel like that. Communications professional from all industries and expertise levels came together as equals to support and encourage one another 🙌
Some of my favourites from other comms professionals
Day 22 of #31DaysOfCreativity my sandwich invention. Introducing the FESTIVAL FOCACCIA!
💩Mud – hummus
🥾Welly boots – rubbery cheese
🍺Cider – apple
🥑Veggie food – avocado
🎶 Bands – red hot chilli peppers
💥Fun – sparkler
With a side order of disco ball. pic.twitter.com/178Wt8Qco4
— Katie Tysome (@katietpr) January 22, 2020
— Ed Placencia /// BrewDailys (@edplacencia) January 20, 2020
— Catherine Martin (@CMComms) January 7, 2020
My creative commitment
Towards the end of the challenge, we were invited to share how we would continue flexing our creativity muscle. Here’s mine:
Here’s me following up on one of my creative commitments to book in for a creative/design/craft workshop where I made two fused glass coasters:
Had a great time at @Eclectic_Hanham last night nurturing my creativity by making these glass coasters. And I loved how everyone created something completely different – just like we all did in #31DaysOfCreativity 🙌
The coasters will now be fired in kiln by a professional 🤞😊 pic.twitter.com/i25UqyTFae
— Alison Hadley (@AHadley_Bristol) February 26, 2020
The finished result… 😊
Comms Creative is offering its 31 Days of Creativity Challenge for free again (usual price is £10 +VAT per person).
I hope this might offer a bit of fun and connection with others for anyone working from home or self-isolating.
We've made it free for a few months so anyone can join 👍
— Hel Reynolds (@HelReynolds) March 16, 2020
Image: Created using free online photo collage maker photofunia.com.