6 Creative Takes on Tapping Innovation

Creativity isn’t something you can switch on and off when you need it. Keeping those ideas flowing takes a little cultivating, as Hollywood director, producer and entrepreneur Robert Rodriguez knows well.

“I stay in the creative flow whether I’m cooking a meal or talking to my kids,” says Rodriguez (Spy Kids, From Dusk Till Dawn), who last year launched El Rey Network. “If you try sitting down and saying, Now I’m going to be creative, it doesn't work. You have to stay immersed in it.”

He asks the same of his actors; rather than sending them to their trailers between takes, he teaches them to paint so they remain in creative mode even when they’re not in front of the cameras.

Rodriguez also seeks and learns from creative people outside the film industry. “I’ll watch a painter and learn more about the creative process than if I talk to another director. Anytime you step out of your comfort zone and learn something new, it’s a creative gift you give yourself.”

The Austin, Texas-based artist also finds it helps to live outside Hollywood. That way “you aren’t bound by the traditions of what everyone else is doing. You can follow your nose without having someone tell you you can’t do it that way.”

Here’s how other creative types tap innovation:

Jada Pinkett-Smith (actor; producer, The Queen Latifah Show): “The freedom to get up and experience new things in life and in the world… meeting new people, seeing new things, reading new books, hearing new music—those things spark me.”

Sean Bean (actor, Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings): “I always look for work that is challenging and interesting to me…. Try new things because it feeds your creative energy.”

Scott Wolf (actor, Party of Five, Perception): “Music always helps inspire me, whether going to a concert or just listening to it in my car.”

Vince Gilligan (creator of Breaking Bad): “Bourbon."

Roma Downey (actress-producer, The Bible ; producer, new CBS miniseries The Dovekeepers): “You have to be filled with passion for the work you are doing. Then you find the best people, share your vision for what you can accomplish and inspire them to charge forward together.”

Want more inside advice from the masters? Get 6 productivity tips from people, like Mark Zuckerberg, who get things done.

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