Often, when we hear the word “innovation” we think of huge advancements in technology, medicine, and science. We think BIG. But if I’ve learned anything from Shark Tank, it’s that innovation happens small. People find an everyday problem, one they encounter on a daily basis, and they solve it.
The creative process is all about innovation. Sometimes I watch Shark Tank, and think “How did they come up with that idea? It’s genius!” Maybe I’m just easily impressed, but I get excited when I see others creating innovative products or services. So how does this translate to the creative process?
I’ll give you an example. I originally began my first book Stereometry as a short story collection. If you know anything about the project, then you know that the book is starkly not that. To be fair, my first short story collection didn’t go anywhere, so I was eager to start fresh, but I was still hoping it was going to be “the next best thing.”
But it just wasn’t working. On a emotional level. On a structure level. On an everything-level. So after dragging my feet awhile (a whole year in fact) I started making small changes. First, I rewrote the stories as they had actually happened, essentially converting Stereometry to nonfiction. It was getting closer, but it still wasn’t there. Over time, and little by little, I kept trying to solve the problem. After a lot of gradual changes, Stereometry became a highly conceptual, genre-queer, lyrically poetic manuscript.
This is all to say that innovation happens when we make the choice to do something different. As an artist, this can be an incredibly daunting choice, especially when we’ve put our everything into this one thing. Sure, we have goals to create the next masterpiece, but in reality, innovation happens a little at a time. It doesn’t always work. This was a hard thing for me to grasp. See, creativity doesn’t always lead to innovation, but innovation always begins with creativity. Choosing to do something different and making an effort to be open to small changes when we need to solve a creative problem is where the magic happens.
Need some inspiration? Check out this innovation exercise.
Create & Ideate is a space for unruly ideas, plenty of creativity, and a few writing exercises sprinkled in along the way. As a writer, I’m always seeking ways to understand my art and be inspired. I hope you find a little inspiration here, too.