Creative advice to my 30yr old self

In my early thirties, working in a busy BBC newsroom, my editor started giving me particularly tricky assignments. “We thought we’d get you on this, Steve” she said. “You’re really creative.” What, me? Really? I feel panic when I have to fill an empty news diary. I could see “creative” people around me having original ideas without breaking sweat. But when I watched them more closely I realised the “creative” people had one thing in common:

They just needed a nudge to get them started.

An idea, a fact, an observation – any bit of information – could set them thinking “what if we applied that thing we’ve just learned to this story I’m working on?” They talked a lot but listened too. They riffed on other people’s ideas. They made conversations fun. They never scored points, they never got huffy. Combine this with true expertise in their subject, and their ideas were as fresh and strong as new cut pine.

So my creative advice to my 30 year old self would be:

  1. Use anything as a nudge. Anything you see or hear can be the start of a new idea.
  2. Listen to people and be generous. It’s a conversation not an argument, so don’t worry about winning.
  3. Immerse yourself in your subject. The more you know, the better your ideas will be.

There’s a neat trick here for using photographs as a creative nudge to bring you new ideas.

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