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What were your first creative outputs like?

Creativity and Innovation

Over the past few weeks, I have been reviewing every one of my previous blog posts. It is part of a review I am doing to consolidate the research I have done over the past 9 years.

And what I have to admit is a bit painful…

Compared to the quality of the articles I have produced in the last few years, some of my first articles were bad.

Like, really bad.

Rambling text without a main point. Lack of references and sources. A lack of consistent style or points between weeks. A lack of consistency in publishing.

Sometimes I had to laugh, since it was almost embarrassing.

But if you are serious about doing anything creative and innovative, it can be hugely valuable to review your first and previous work.

There are a number of benefits this can bring:

  1. Seeing your own evolution: People forget that creativity is just like any other skill: it takes time to master. While deliberate practice is more important than the famous 10,000 hours myth, the more you work at something, the better you will become. Looking back at the quality you produced when you started can show you how far you have come. It will also show you
  2. Finding inspiration and building on existing ideas: Ideas build on one another. By reviewing your previous work, it is likely to spark new connections with information and ideas you have gained since you originally published that work, resulting in even more new ideas for future work.
  3. Overcoming previous challenges: If you are trying anything new, chances are you will become stuck from time to time. Sometimes, this may result in you publishing or drafting some half-finished ideas you just couldn’t get to work at the time. With the knowledge, skills and experience you have gained since them, you may be in a position to solve the challenges now which you couldn’t previously.
  4. Evaluating the volume of your productivity: Research shows that in order to produce noticeable, high quality creative work, quantity beats quality. That means that the higher the volume of work you produce, the higher the likelihood that some of it will be amazing. Looking over your previous work can give you an indication of when you were most productive, how that compares to your current productivity, and evaluating what you can do to become more creatively productive again.
  5. Showing your trends and direction: When you are working in the moment, it is easy to become focused on the piece of work directly in front of you. By looking back at the sequence of work you have produced and comparing them to each other, it can uncover the creative direction which not only your ideas but your output is going in. You might see changes in focus (topics, audience…), artistic style (brushstrokes, lengths of paragraphs) or even the message and content you are able to convey. Knowing this, you might see that you are moving in the right direction to achieve your creative ambitions. Or, you may be surprised by what you seem to be focusing on, and want to pivot into a new direction, or even get back towards a previous direction.

So whatever ways you are being creative, whether it is in your professional life, personal life or anywhere else, take a stroll down memory avenue and look at what you previously produced with open eyes and an open mind.

You might cringe a bit. I certainly did.

But you might just find something unexpected.

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