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This article is part of the Creative Slice series, where we explore our relationship with creativity and how it flows through our daily lives in weird and wonderful ways.

Here, Samantha shares her personal creative philosophy, with some mildly worrying advice about big red buttons. And far less worrying advice about creative inspiration.

By Samantha De Silva

If I could time travel 20 years back and give myself one piece of advice, it would be: “Always push the big red button.”

Something about this phrase (and my general urge to push buttons I’m not supposed to) perfectly sums up the three core ingredients of how I feed and wield my creativity: 

  1. Curiosity 
  2. Playfulness
  3. Exploring the “what ifs”

1. Curiosity DIDN’T kill the cat, it gave the cat superpowers

Intense curiosity about everything and anything drives my creativity. 

It started early; in my desperate bid to chomp on ALL the words, I even read the dictionary cover to cover when I was ten years old. I’ve stopped this bad habit as an adult, thankfully. 

But it’s true that an intense, constant need to know and explore fuels my creative process, pushing me to ask questions and seek new perspectives. And press buttons I might not have otherwise pressed. 

My question for my 20-year-old self: How can you seed curiosity in your own creative process? What truly new perspectives can you explore, even if they create discomfort?

2. Creating = Play. Yay!

That formula might be a tad reductive, but that’s essentially it. When I create, there has to be a sense of joy and playfulness in what I’m making, starting even from the approach I take — which is very meta, but it works for me. 

I’m not saying the subject matter always has to be light and fluffy, absolutely not. Just that each creative project I embark on has to both be fueled by, and fulfill that sense of playfulness and joy to be found in the act of creating. No matter what you’re making!

This may sound odd, but it’s about ROI for me. What’s the return (in terms of personal satisfaction) on what I’m pouring into a creative project? If it’s not lighting me up and keeping me in a flow state, something isn’t right. 

My question for my 20-year-old self: Are you truly open to all the creative pathways that could light you up?

3. Exploring the “What Ifs”

In my own experience, one of the most important aspects of creativity is fully exploring the “what ifs.” This means pulling on those threads of possibility and seeing where they lead. I mean, think about it. Some of the greatest creative solutions and inventions come from persistently asking “what if …?”

My question for my 20-year-old self: How can you more fully commit to exploring the “what if” questions in your creative projects? 

How I Stay Inspired: Personal Creativity DNA

I used to get so stumped at workshops and panel talks when someone inevitably asked me how I stayed inspired as a writer. Every. Single. Time. Because I could never give anyone a straight answer. 

After a rather long time, I finally have an answer. (Sort of).

For me, inspiration flows from my personal creativity DNA, as I like to see it. What is this personal creativity DNA? Well, I’m sure it’s unique to each creative. 

And for me, my creativity DNA is a blend of my creative philosophy: curiousity, playfulness, and joy, as well as exploring the “what ifs”.

I certainly didn’t figure out what worked best for me overnight, but I sure wish I’d started thinking about it sooner! 

My question for my 20-year-old self (and for you, friend): What does your personal creativity DNA look like? How can it work better for you?

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