When it comes to being creative (and staying that way), I sometimes find myself struggling a bit. Maybe it’s because I’m indoors for most of the day longingly staring out at the summer-like weather from my desk. Or I suppose it could be because I get into a routine and forget one of the best ways to get creative: exploring.

Recently, I was on a video shoot in downtown Indianapolis and finished just before lunch time, but before I made my way back to the office my boss gave me a challenge, “I want you to go get lunch while you’re downtown and shoot a video essay about your experience.” Now, I like challenges just as much as the next guy, but I didn’t have any time to prepare for this video I was about to shoot.

Sometimes not planning is okay

This challenge led me to get out of the cookie-cutter thought that everything has to be planned to be good. I wandered around downtown just shooting video of things I found fascinating or places I love to visit. Once you can finally let go of that mind set of planning ahead you’ll come to this place of child-like enthusiasm. Sort of like visiting Disney World for the first time (well, maybe not to that extreme), but you might be singing “Let It Go” from Frozen before you get to that point.

Here are three things I did to “Let It Go”:

Find inspiration

It was a completely new experience for me to simply walk around until I found something worthwhile to shoot. Typically on a shoot you’ll have a shot list or at least know of a few things you need to get footage of. In this case, however, I didn’t have that, which meant I was free to let my creativity run wild, and while it’s a bit intimidating at first it ended up being a lot of fun.

Get outside yourself

I usually don’t go downtown by myself, so this was definitely a challenge in more than one way, but I found that my creativity levels and focus were up since I didn’t have someone there to distract me in conversation.

View things differently

I learned that sometimes you won’t get that perfect shot the first time around. So don’t hesitate to shoot the same thing over and over from different angles until it’s just right. A perfect example is when I was shooting the bikeshare I realized the side I was shooting from was too dark so I went to the other side. Then, I realized a lady was walking by so I waited until she was in the shot before I recorded it because it gave my shot some activity (since it’s not just a picture). By paying attention to my surroundings I was able to get the right shot.

After exploring downtown for a bit I went back to the office and sifted through all the various clips and photos I had taken that afternoon. My first thought was “how am I going to piece this together?” I mean, I didn’t plan this out and now I’ve got lots of great shots, but no plan.

Adding a voiceover

The best way to take a bunch of what we call “B-roll” and turn it into a story was to write up a script (don’t be afraid to improvise a little too) that went along with the footage I already had, but also told my story of what my experience was like. And after about 6 attempts of recording this VO – in my car because the office was a bit noisy – I had myself a story.

In the end, the project came together way better than I had imagined and I learned that getting out of your comfort zone and just doing something as simple as exploring your city with a camera is a surefire way to get those creative juices flowing. And it’s a great way to challenge yourself too.

Check out the finished video below!