As I sat down with my cup of coffee and a few ideas for this article, it dawned on me… What is your next creative level and what easy wins/steps can we take to achieve them?

Suddenly this article, seemingly easy to begin writing, brought me deeper into a more over arching “how to” than a few low hanging fruits.  However, I know what you want to hear, “Give me the nitty gritty to move on from the creative slump that I’m having,” but before we get to the easy wins, let’s talk through what your own creative level is, and what low hanging fruit means to you.

What is Low Hanging Fruit?

Low-hanging fruit is a commonly used metaphor for doing the simplest or easiest work first, or for a quick-fix that produces ripe, delectable results.

Another definition continues… “as part of a wider range of changes or solutions to a problem.”

Simply put, it’s the easiest thing to do for an easy win. We know that. Sounds easy, right? But, in practice? What low pickings can I choose to one up myself in my creativity? How can we corralate an easy win with taking me to my next creative level?

Next Level Creativity

“Something or someone on a level above all the rest of the world. The person on the ‘NEXT LEVEL’ usually thinks differently from everyone, hence why he is known as NEXT LEVEL.” – Urban Dictionary

“Further improve or develop something that is already successful.” – Oxford Dictionary

“Doing the simplest or easiest work first for a quick fix that produces delectable creative results that further improves or develops our already successful creativeness.” – My definition

 

You see what I did there.  I took the article title, creatively, to the next level.  That’s what I do. Wonderful Adrian… now what?  So now we have a great definition of “Low hanging fruit to take your creativity to the next level.”

Let’s talk about creativity in church. As church leaders, we would like all our weekly services & events to be next level. Which in turn means, almost everything we do has to be next level. Does it though?

For most of us in the creative fields, we pour so much of ourselves into our work. We wear our heart on our sleeves day in and day out because that’s how we roll. We don’t mind getting hurt, because in our hurt lies our next great project. We’re just built different and weird that way. Is this why we hit the wall on our creativity? Are we afraid to get hurt, yet again? Different topic, I’m sure, but for now let’s look into our weekly church duties/activities. Below, I jotted down a few areas that we call “creative” in church:

  • Graphic Design
  • Motion Graphic Design
  • Storyteller (i.e. video/doc./etc…)
  • Lighting Design
  • Audio Design
  • Sermon Prep.
  • Web work
  • Social Media

I’m sure we can include additional ones, but I hope there is enough overlap that anyone involved in the creative process can walk away from this article with some good takeaways. You’ll notice I put Creative Director down at the bottom. After all, they really just tell people what to do and don’t really get creative. Kidding. I’m sure they’re creative somewhere, after all they direct creativity. Again, I jest.

I don’t want to be Yoda and jot down some unreachable, intangible, wins such as, be spontaneous, don’t be afraid to fail, or trust the process. Yoda would say it better:  afraid to fail be not, the process trust we must, etc…  Definitely more elegant. But, there’s more to the creative process than gimmicky quips. I would like to give you something tangible that you can get an easy win starting today. However, a bit more looking down at the whole creative process than specific areas. So let’s look at a few.

Low Hanging Fruit: Project Management

Find yourself a good project management app. Particularly one that can be used on your mobile devices.

The Win

Organization is the win here. No, it’s not sexy. But as a creative, a little organization will help you in the long run. I recommend Asana. It rocks and can expand, and should, to your whole creative team.

Low Hanging Fruit: Get Ahead

Ask for the next sermon series, event, or the like weeks before it’s due.

The Win

Not only will you appear to be vested in the success of the sermon series or event, you actually will be invested in it’s success.

“Wow, that insert your name is so creative (because they asked for my opinion).”

Yup, that’s exactly how it works.  But the real win, is getting information and/or creative direction you need weeks before it’s needed.  Giving you plenty of time to procrastinate playing Minecraft, making you that much more creative the night before it’s actually due. You creative genius you.

No. Don’t procrastinate, but now you have a couple more weeks, maybe more, to work on your next project. With this time, let’s take advantage of down time. You know, when you’re walking your dog and all of a sudden “Wow, that’s a great idea for insert project you just asked for in advance.  Guess what?  Write it in your mobile device’s project management app, under the project listed above. Awesome, you’re on your way to easy pickings.

Low Hanging Fruit: Use a Creative Brief

Attention all Creative Directors with at least one staff person reporting to them… you need to use a creative brief!

The Win

Well, what’s a creative brief?

In the best cases, a creative brief is a document created through initial meetings, interviews, readings and discussions between a client and designer before any work begins. Throughout the project, the creative brief continues to inform and guide the work

Your creatives need a canvas to work on.  They need to know their limits.  Not to mention the color scheme, the theme, the feel, etc…, is needed to move on with the project.  As a Creative Director, your job is to ask these questions before passing them on to them.  We can’t have our team working on assumptions.  We know what that means.  If you don’t, email me, I’ll let you know.

Having a project description, needs assessment, time line, etc… can help the creative team with coordination of asset creation, development, deployment and even assessment.  But it all begins with good information – a creative brief.  You know the old mantra “garbage in, garbage out”.  Same for the creative process.

 

So there you have it, just a few ways to get your creative juices flowing again.  But, you’re asking yourself, “There’s nothing creative here to help me with my creative slump.”  I would agree with you too. There is nothing that directly makes you more creative. However, organizing your thoughts, having plenty of time to work on projects, and getting clear direction for the project at hand gives you the tools, the canvas, and the clear direction to let your creativity run wild.

This is coming from someone who has worked the trenches with other creatives and as a creative director – directly supporting creative teams. I don’t believe there is something more essential that the three low hanging fruits mentioned in this article.

With all this said, I know we need some tangible low hanging fruit that we can begin using in our processes to move past our creative slumps. I have good news. In my next post I’ll introduce some specific low hanging fruit within your ministry areas that will spark the creativity, make it easier, or better. While we wait, why don’t you attempt to deploy one of these over arching easy pickings for a great win in your ministry/department. You’ll never know if you don’t try. Right? If you do, please feel free to comment on your success or failure. We’d love to hear from you.