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How To Be Creative on a Deadline


Creativity takes far more courage than most people realize. After decades working as a creative professional, I’m convinced that the fear of being able to deliver great ideas on a deadline is one of the greatest challenges when it comes to producing creative work.

There’s been plenty of books written on creativity and innovation, but very few on the battles we often fight to be creative in the first place. Wherever you are or whatever you do, creative change is going to ruffle a few feathers. Perhaps more accurately, it’s going to drive some folks absolutely nuts. That’s why creative courage is in such short supply today. Advertising legend George Lois said, “In professional work – certainly in the arts and graphics – 99% of people have zero courage. They blow with the wind.”

George is right. Innovators shake things up and that creates criticism, push-back, and in many cases, when your critics are in charge, you could lose your job or have your reputation tarnished. That’s why the few who do stand fast are creative heroes.

In an issue of Fast Company magazine, photographer Platon (who’s made a career photographing world leaders) told a remarkable story:

I once photographed the civil-rights heroes of our time, including one of the Greensboro Four, who did the original sit-in. I asked him “How did you do that?” It broke all the rules to walk into the Woolworth’s and sit at the counter. He said, “Don’t wait for the masses to start a revolution.”

When it comes to making creative change happen in your world, stick to your guns. Do what you have to do. Don’t wait for the masses to start a revolution.

And most important, don’t let fear of delivering great ideas rob you of a creative life.

That’s exactly why I wrote my book: “Ideas on a Deadline: How to Be Creative When the Clock is Ticking,” published by the Inspire Collective. It’s designed to be the definitive book for creative people who have to deliver breakthrough ideas on demand. One of the most destructive myths about creativity is the idea that we need to wait for inspiration. But as artist Chuck Close said, “Inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work.” Whether you’re a creative professional like a designer, writer, musician, or filmmaker, or an executive, engineer, teacher or salesperson, this book will show you how to “prime the pump” of your creativity, overcome the blocks, and deliver great ideas when you need them the most.

It’s time for you to overcome your fear and start leading a creative (and courageous) life.

This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.