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In case you think “how to be more creative” ideas aren’t real techniques used by people in more creatively-oriented industries, a recent “Entertainment Weekly” article shows that’s not the case. In an interview-based article called, “Kids at Heart,” directors Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams talked about their careers, their creative relationship, and the movie “Super 8.” The how-to’s of creativity fascinate me, and I’m always up for listening to practitioners talk about the techniques and perspectives infusing their creative processes. Here are 8 creative lessons from the guys behind “Super 8.”

1. Collaborate with People Stronger than You

It can be intimidating to be paired up with a creative force having more experience or notoriety. But what better way to be more creative? While Abrams says that working with Spielberg leaves him “paralyzed with disbelief” at times, he views Spielberg as his creative “consigliere.”

2. Focus Your Creativity

When developing “War of the Worlds,” Spielberg asked Abrams to craft the movie’s script. Abrams was focused on getting the TV series “Lost” off the ground though, so he passed.

3. Create from Your Distinct Talents and Passions

“Super 8” offered the directors an opportunity to pursue a subject central to both of them since youth: making movies. The film also intertwines their shared interests in science fiction. Creativity from a true passion always seems easier.

4. Creativity from Putting other Pieces Together

To enrich the “Super 8” storyline, Abrams wove in a monster-oriented movie theme he’d already floated to a studio. Since there’s no law against creative piling on, look for other ideas and concepts you can attach to current creative projects.

5. “Applied” Creativity IS Creativity

Sometimes creativity is purely about art. Sometimes it’s more pragmatic – such as getting your way and staying out of trouble. Spielberg’s first movie as a child was of toy trains colliding. The motivation? HIs father had told him if he continued wrecking his trains, he’d get them taken away. With the movie in the can, Spielberg could watch his trains smash together over and over without fear of punishment.

6. Combine Creative Genres

Abrams loves “combining genres.” He described a movie he made during high school as a “comedy-meets-science fiction-meets-love story.” Stretching yourself creatively can mean combining what nobody else is willing or able to combine in pursuit of your creative vision.

7. Go Against Trends

Discussing “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” Spielberg said that up to that point, movie interactions between humans and aliens were antagonistic and confrontational. His objective was to “buck the trend” and depict something different. His starting point was an extraterrestrial being traveling so far to Earth wasn’t going to come here for violence.

8. The Right Creative Moment Matters

What’s creatively appropriate now, might not be later. Spielberg and Abrams talked about the impact of “Close Encounters” being about a man who turns his back on his family to follow the aliens. Not only do they doubt a studio would make a movie with that plot line now, Spielberg himself, after having seven children, admits he wouldn’t write the movie with a father leaving his family.

Great lessons, huh?

And all of them are within reach of any of us figuring out how to be more creative in our daily lives! – Mike Brown


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” for help on how to be more innovative! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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