A podcast I heard recently used the acronym “RAIN” to describe a technique for extracting the most out of daily life by staying in the moment. Given the the drought affecting many parts of the world, that caught my attention. As I listened, I realized how appropriate this acronym was for issues of creativity facing visual communicators on a daily basis.
It stands for the following:
R = recognition
A = acknowledgment
I = investigation
N = non-permanence
All creativity involves an initial recognition of the variables that may be affecting work right in front of us. We need to assess the realities of our assignment. That assessment requires accurate recognition based on fully asking How? and Why? questions.
Acknowledgement means simply dealing with the emotional feelings that assignments may be creating in the moment. I’ve noticed how anxiety and fear often work against creativity by narrowing down vision and blocking consideration of useful alternative paths. Instead if we simply accept the fact that new work, particularly, when done on behalf of new clients, can provoke a certain amount of anxiety, fear, or nervousness and that is normal as a human response, then perhaps we can be free of the burden of constricted thinking.
Investigation is a crucial piece of creative problem solving. Creativity is often hampered because a visual communicator hasn’t asked the deep questions to put all assignment variables in full view. It is crucial to look at assignments as puzzles to be solved. The solutions require us to ask what is important to be communicated to the audience and why it would matter fully to the client. Sometimes, clients aren’t fully able to articulate what they are trying to achieve with visual messages. So gentle questioning is crucial to get on the same page. As I work with students now, I realize that a certain openness and curiosity about all things in the world is critical to asking the right questions. Any short cuts made on the basis of unchecked assumptions can be fatal to an assignment’s completion.
Finally, non-permanence is the gift that life offers us always, as the never-ending current of change sweeps us along. We have the ability to choose what we focus on at any moment. Nothing is forever, and our ability to do creative work depends on freeing ourselves from the idea of permanent attachments. While we want our outcomes to be successful in pleasing clients and leading to more work, it is equally important to realize that what really matters most is enlarging our repertoire of creative responses. We need to become steadily more acute in our ability to assess assignment requirements and thus deploy our knowledge and experience to create valuable visual communication. We can choose to move, grow, and change, and to avoid staying stuck, simply by embracing the notions of continual personal growth and constant change.
Let it RAIN.