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Creativity and One Design Tip

April 17, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a lovely week and are looking forward to a lovely weekend. Also, Happy National Library Week! We’ve had a week of events here at the library, which has made for a fun (and busy) week. I enjoyed designing posters and flyers for our events so I wanted to talk a bit about creativity today as well as start talking about design. Since one of my new research areas is looking at graphic design and libraries, I wanted to start sharing some of that on this blog. So let’s get into it.

First, I had to share this article from Lifehacker on How You’re Sabotaging Your Creativity Every Day. Go ahead and read it; I’ll wait for you here. I really like this article. It is a good reminder that we shouldn’t feel like we need to copy someone else’s schedule to be more creative. It is about what works best for us. And, if you need one, the article gives you the excuse to keep working on side projects, which I think is great. I would also add that we have to give up the myth that we just wait around for the muse to strike to be creative or that we have to keep a totally rigid schedule to be creative. I think it is great to have a schedule and figure out your best times to work. It helps to be consistent and work consistently as you are more likely to train your brain to know when you are “being creative.” But, on the flip side, not all of us can always keep a consistent schedule for our creative work. I’ll give you an example.

While not the most creative work I do, I would argue that writing up research articles takes a measure of creativity. You have to synthesize literature, you have to be creative in spotting where you can make a contribution, and you have to ultimately write up your findings in a way that will get accepted for publication if you want to share out your results in the peer-reviewed literature. Being in a position where publication is expected, I do this quite often and it is definitely a creative and at times exhausting process. When I first started in my position, I could only write in the mornings and only if I had long, uninterrupted stretches of time. When I first started, I also had fewer commitments on campus which made this possible. Shutting the door actually worked and I could get work done. But now, almost 7 years on, I rarely am able to take a day away from campus (or even a half day) to dedicate to writing. It’s kinda sad, but at the same time, I’m much better now at using 15, 20 minute breaks in my day to write and revise articles. My last article, which I’m currently revising, was written completely in small time pockets at work. So while I’m a huge fan of scheduling writing/drawing/creating time, I think it is also important to maintain flexibility to still be creative (and productive) when scheduling problems throw a kink in our best laid plans. Life happens, but we can still create.

On that note, I just wanted to share one design tip today. If you are interested in graphic design and are a librarian, look for inspiration and experience outside of the library field. Don’t confine yourself to literature, webinars, courses, etc. that are written only within our field. One of the best, fondational books I just read for graphic design was Best Practices for Graphic Designers: Grids and Page Layouts. It is an excellent introduction to using grids to organize your designs and the importance of planning before creating designs. I highly recommend it.

I hope you have a lovely weekend planned full of everything that makes you happy. I’ll be back next week with more news and notes. Allons-y!

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