There is only one way to be creative, and it's not easy or a secret.

The heart of creativity is discipline.

- Bill Bernbach

Misconceptions concerning creativity abound, but one of the most widespread and harmful is that there's some magical vein of creative thought lurking in the mysterious reaches of our minds. The myth is, those of us who aren't creative types will either never be privy to these lofty thoughts or should jump through a series of quirky, "outside the box" hoops to attain them: brainstorming, creativity training, and hipster culture to name a few.

The reality is, creativity is an applied utility. Bill Bernbach, one of the creative giants of advertising history, once said, "Is creativity some obscure, esoteric art form? Not on your life. It's the most practical thing a businessman can employ." Being creative in some intangible, general way isn't an asset; applying creativity to your work, whether it's "artsy" or not, is.

It's true, illustrators, designers, and art directors are regularly expected to be creative, but so are strategists, developers, and a slew of other individuals in the interactive space. What creative individuals have in common is a certain level of mastery, a sufficient understanding of the fundamentals to be able to bend them appropriately, combined with the discipline to pursue new ways of doing things.

The root of creativity then, in fact, has nothing to do with living a creative lifestyle or being a creative type, and everything to do with practice, the art of perfecting your skills so that you can use them in new, innovative ways.  I know this probably isn't the most exciting or easy advice to read, but it's the truth. The old cliche "practice makes perfect" might as well be "practice makes creative."

Written by Chris Allison on July 15, 2010

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Written by
Chris Allison