Idea Incubator 24: Emotions as Creative Guideposts

glass collection of Liane Sebastian
To focus and sustain a creative direction depends more on emotions than on talent, skill, or education. Discipline to do tasks we don’t like has a time limit. Above all, creative thinkers do best when we love what we do. This enjoyment translates into the work itself. It shows somehow in the results—perceived unconsciously by the viewer.

Expert on creativity, Gail McMeekin has observed hundreds of innovative thinkers and concludes:

“Intuition is a tool for insight and illumination. To develop and sharpen, it requires skills in listening to yourself.”
—Gail McMeekin, contributor to Women who Win at Work

Acknowledge and respect emotions as guideposts. Passion gets the job done. When passions mesh, the best collaborations result. Using passion as a project ingredient means tapping this emotional energy. Like any other skill or tool, it can be harnessed, developed, and nurtured. The role of emotion in creativity can’t be underestimated and conviction results, allowing people to accomplish. What are the guideposts of emotion that can be studied and grown?

As a design professional, my job is to tap the passions of the client and the audience: address what motivates, define priorities, and express personality. Capturing these qualities needs an emotional appeal that can be found through these clues:


glass collection of Liane SebastianMorning mood— What is your emotional temperature the moment of getting out of bed?
If you are thinking about your current project enthusiastically before your feet hit the floor, you are on a good path.


glass collection of Liane SebastianDefensiveness— Do you refute or resent the opinions you’ve solicited?
This reaction is an arrow pointing directly to what matters most. Unsettling responses shows weakness. Strong directions are open to dissention and criticism. Weak ideas can be deflated through examination.


glass collection of Liane SebastianNecessity— What is the goal?
Every project has tedious or even unpleasant aspects that must be slogged through to get the payoff.


glass collection of Liane SebastianReward— What are you paid to do?
If money is the only motivation, it is hollow. But to be financially rewarded boosts a feeling of appreciation. People give the best feedback through their pocketbooks. But if they regularly receive a benefit for free, they may resent having to pay. If everyone gives you art for your walls, why pay for it?


glass collection of Liane SebastianStubbornness— Do you have any ideas that keep resurfacing?
Often these ideas use more than one resource so combining connections, talents, and experiences creates a flow. Synchronicity results.


glass collection of Liane SebastianCause— What changes do you most want to see?
If short-term results are tangible, a great deal of unpleasantness in tasks can be overcome through endurance. But if the results are too long-term, this motivation alone is hard to keep fueled.


glass collection of Liane SebastianCuriosity— What are side interests that pull?
Hobbies or escapist activities reveal what may be missing in a major preoccupation—the unconscious human desire to balance activities. As an emotional signpost, curiosity grows if allowed to wander.


glass collection of Liane SebastianPurpose— Which projects make you forget about time while working?
The perception that time flies when having fun and drags when unpleasant indicates the difference between goals. Whenever losing sense of time in the activity, the desire to return and resume is a constant draw.

Consider the previous Idea Incubators:

Part 1: The Positioned Mind weaves together a foundational tapestry for creative thinking. Like any great endeavor, a journey takes preparation: shopping for materials, packing the right equipment, and choosing a road map. Create the environment to be creative:

#1: “Maintenance Mastery” Get rid of what is in the way of developing creative energy.
#2: “Marketing to Match” Focus on the best target audience and their behavior.
#3: “Risk: The Dark Side of Creativity” Formulate plans that mitigate or use risks to advantage.
#4: “Master Things to Do” Organize and prioritize strategy.
#5: “Choosing Change” Insert flexibility and perspective into plans.
#6: “Is Creativity a Luxury?” Decide how creativity fits business.
#7: “Form a Creative Base” Wearing various organizational hats is the input for creative focus.
#8: “Ignite Creative Collaboration” Get everyone on the same page.

Part 2: The Creative Mind explores the best way to come up with great ideas:

#9: “The Creative Compass”    Gain clarity through matching conviction with circumstance.
#10: “Origins of Originality” Explore methods for generating original ideas.
#11: “Perfectionism—Agony or Ecstacy?”  Perfectionism need limits so that it does not become counterproductive.
#12: “Flexible Fuel ” Managing flexibility requires new and evolving skills, necessary to encourage creativity.
#13: “The Most Creative Question” Explore the process to arrive at the single most important and impactful question.
#14: “Gauging Good Ideas” Having ideas and knowing which are worth pursuing involve different levels of the creative process.
#15: “Solitary Brainstorms” Discover meaningful ideas. Brainstorming begins with a solitary exploration.
#16: “The Focus of Variety” Develop a battery of approaches, ideas, tricks, and techniques.

Part 3: The Focused Mind uses passion and planning to achieve the most worthwhile goals.
#17: “Passion Rules”  Where you invest your time and resources is both a self-portrait and a prediction.
#18: “Productive Passion” Follow passion as a sign post for viability. Develop a project plan to focus and actualize.
#19: “Maintain Motivational Momentum ” Edit ideas ruthlessly and then follow the best ones passionately. Build techniques that can keep the motivation strong through the development of large projects.
#20: “Presentation Passion” How an idea is presented can be as important as the idea itself. Investigate the qualities that make a presentation strong through focusing passions.
#21: “The Best Project Editor” Use audience feedback to direct focus by uniting interests and needs.
#22: “Propelling Passion Daily”  Ask a series of questions regularly to focus passion and do the right things with strength.
#23: “Relying on Resources” Making the most with what you have means focusing resources creatively.

Liane Sebastian, illustrator, designer, writer, and publishing pioneer


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One Response to “Idea Incubator 24: Emotions as Creative Guideposts”

  1. Showdown: Creativity Faces Fear « Wisdomofwork's Blog Says:

    […] Variety” “Emotions as Creative Guideposts” […]

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