Creativity loves constraints, but they must be balanced with a healthy disregard for the impossible.
As a web design tool WordPress is limiting because someone has already taken care of the layout or basic design structure for you. That’s one of its greatest assets. Designing a website from scratch can be a long process because there are so many decisions to make. Which fonts do you like? What colours do you like? What colours work best? Do you want the navigation bar here, there, over there, down there, maybe here? The permutations and tweaking can be endless.
By giving you less to do WordPress makes it easier for you to be more creative with a website were it matters most. In your branding, your content and your promotion.
WordPress is just a tool though. Its how you use the tool that’s important. Here are two different and personal stories of people who have boosted their creativity through using WordPress.
Back in 2010, I signed up to make my very first WordPress blog to chronicle a year-long creative project I was starting. The object was simple: One project a month, chosen randomly from two sets of cards: Theme and Medium. The mediums ranged from jewelry making to short film to building furniture. And the themes included things like “stuff in my trash”, “vintage aviation” and “survival”. The goal was to give myself permission to just let loose, have fun, and tackle a bunch of creative projects I’ve always wanted to do. I needed a way to hold myself accountable to actually make this happen, and with that 12 Months of Creativity began.
Through the course of the year, I gained an immense amount of confidence in my own artistic capabilities. I was having fun, pushing myself and feeling more fulfilled in my life than ever before. As it turns out, the structure and accountability the blog provided me was vital to completing my year-long goal and was a big part of what pushed me to grow. Knowing that people would be expecting me to post kept me from giving up when I most wanted to and always kept me pushing myself a little bit harder and farther. Not only did I complete the year, but I continued writing on the blog about creativity and what inspired me in the following year.
Fast forward to one sunny day in June 2012… everything in my world changed. My fiance was killed very suddenly in a crash while working at his first job as a helicopter pilot. My world was shattered. I was entirely broken and left floating there with my entire future vanished. I stopped writing on my creative blog. I needed to talk about his death, and my pain, and our love… not creativity. So I started a second blog, Our 1000 Days, with the goal to write about our love and my journey forward for exactly as many days as we had together.
This blog carried me through some of my darkest days… when literally the only positive of my whole day was often times writing a blog post. Being able to share openly and receive back messages of support, kindness, and understanding – sometimes from total strangers – was incredibly healing (and still is). To know that there are people always eager to read has helped me to keep going even during times when I feel like shutting down. It keeps my heart open and helps me to create meaning from the pain.
It is now almost two years since that horrible day, and three years since I first began on WordPress. I have gone from a dreamer stuck at a day job to an independent artist doing work that is meaningful and fulfilling. I am also a featured writer for an online magazine now (a dream of mine), thanks to the founder discovering my 1000 Days blog. And just two months ago, I returned back to 12 Months of Creativity with a new mission and year-long project – a weekly series of self portraits portraying my world of grief – with plans to publish an expanded book of photography and short essays on grief when the project is complete. And I can assure you, the structure of having a place to share has once again been paramount in my ability to keep this project rolling.
This journey has been full of surprises – some beautiful, others horrible – but one of the most surprising things has been just how much impact a blogging platform has had. Daily, in the highs and the lows, WordPress has been there to remind me; Keep showing up, keep making something, never stop growing, and always share it with the world.
You can also find Sarah at sevenshootingstars.com/
“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
What do you do when you have too many ideas and no structure to put them? You bounce from idea to idea, you feel incredible, you get frustrated and you don’t accomplish are much as you know you can.
They say the devil is in the detail! My name is Simon and I’m a perfectionist. It comes from being a designer. Attempting to take care of every single detail, making sure the layout is exactly right, everything aligned to the millimetre!
One of the details I never looked into until recently is how to house my creative imagination. Because it would be possible to me to go from idea to idea without actually accomplishing that much.
I’ve got stacks of notebooks full of scribbled ideas, plans and mind maps. My biggest creative barriers are how to turn scribbled notes into………….something. And how do I know which ideas are worth pursuing and sweating over.
Sometimes the ideas I get feel so right. They go off like a fireworks display, compelling and enthralling to watch, magical in their feeling. I become an observer, not knowing which ones to pick. I try and do something with them all and slot them into an organisational system that doesn’t really help me Get Things Done. Because managing information is not the real problem. The problem is the reactive living that comes from a constant avalanche of ‘brilliant’ ideas.
So what’s this got to do with WordPress? WordPress has helped to become more creative in many ways. Like helping me overcome a few fears. There was a time when I ummed and arrred before publishing my first article. Afraid of what people would think I put it off for ages. Now it seems crazy to me that I would let this stop me, but I had to go through it to get over it.
Now WordPress is making me more creative in another way. Its helping me learn how my mind works so I can organise my thoughts and be more productive and happier. It’s the not so obvious or talked about part of creativity that I really struggle with.
When I started building websites in 2005 I taught myself to hand code, then the projects got bigger and clients wanted CMS’s. My coding ability was not great so I started hiring developers. I would do the design and a developer would do the build. It’s the standard process for web development. After after years of doing it this way it started to suck. Clients always wanted changes, developers got bored and didn’t respond to emails, clients would argue about additional costs. Plus new clients usually wanted me to present a few designs before they buy. The situation started getting unattainable for me.
So I focussed solely on WordPress and started doing website workshops with clients, building the website together. It was very successful, the clients got a brand new design and got to understand how a website is built so they could manage WordPres with no further help or cost.
Fast forward a few years and I’m teaching groups of people how to make their own websites with WordPress. I love teaching and enabling others to be able to create and adapt their own websites. To do it successfully though, I needed a process and some in-depth course materials. Up till then I’d been winging it now and again, relying on my charm and enthusiasm to cover my lack of knowledge and preparation.
Putting my ideas (and there are a lot!) into a linear structure so I can teach a group of people has been like torture. I am driven to do it to the best of my ability because standing in front of a group of people scares the hell out of me. I don’t want to look like a fool (I never do) and I really want them to get it.
Iteratively from lesson to lesson I work on my process and it gets better. I work on my course materials and they become more relevant. It still feels hard but not as hard as when I started.
Through teaching WordPress I’m exercising my ability to bring my ideas into the world in a way that others can understand and utilise. When I started doing my workshops I’d take over and start doing the work for the client if we hit a problem. Now I’m communicating to a group, which is completely different thing. I’m learning to structure my creative imagination in a way that that is more useful and productive and that taps into one of my deepest needs. To make the world a better place.
The imagination is unleashed by constraints
Has WordPress helped you to become more creative? Has it made you uncreative? Does such a thing as uncreativity exist? Let me know your story in the comments below, I’d love to hear it.