Many people believe that they lack creativity. Even though we’re not Olympic athletes, we can all run. Even though we are not the Beatles w can still sing. Every single person has some creative potential, some just seem to harness is better than others. What separates the average brain from a Michelangelo brain? As a successful concert pianist once told me, “It’s 98% perspiration and 2% inspiration”. Michelangelo probably just practiced, and practiced, and practiced.
1. Find Your Source
This refers to your “outlet.” What are your interests? What gets you excited? Being stuck in a profession/field of study that doesn’t inspire you on a day to day basis certainly can hinder your creative output. Finding what you like requires an open mind because you never know what you like until you try. Examples: musical expression; literary expression; creative problem solving; visual art
2. Surround Yourself With Excellence
Once you find your source, read up on it. Research and learn to appreciate the pioneers in that field. Become consumed. Agree with some, disagree with others. Study their process and methods, extract what you like and use your own. Examples: an interest in modern art (source) would lead to research and the appreciation of Jackson Pollock and the “drip and drop” method, use this method to generate your own expression; an interest in satirical literature (source) would lead to research and the appreciation for 20th century author Kurt Vonnegut.
3. Just Create
The hardest part of any creative process is starting it. While some inspirations are sudden and spontaneous and others are intricate and thought out, taking that first step is the most important part. According to Driediger, the process can be a test of resiliency. Many historic minds had many, many attempts and failures before reaching their desired product. Examples: free association writing; doodling
4. Cross Creative Borders
Many approaches to creativity may overlap each other. Using principles in one discipline may enlighten you to use them in another discipline. These connections, in themselves, are an indicator of your creativity. Examples: implementing the structure of the military when raising a family; using sports and team building metaphors in the business world.
5) Limit Amusement
A very interesting fact addressed by Driediger:
“Your creative source is known as your “muse”. This is an ancient Greek word meaning to be absorbed in thought or inspired. Amusement is the absence of thought or inspiration.”
Things that satisfy us on a superficial level (T.V., video games) allow us to be passive. We are not actively engaging our creative process and we can foolishly allow these activities to replace our imagination. Driediger is not condemning all electronic stimulation, but a limited moderation is suggested. Use television occasionally to help expand your mind, but dependence, of course, is unhealthy. This is not to say being creative is all work and no play. Driediger implores you to seek mediums that not only enhance your creativity, but also entertain you. Examples: books on tape; documentaries
6. Take Care of Yourself
A very underrated factor that plays an important role in creative production is health, both mental and physical. Chronic ideas that linger throughout the day are said to be damaging to your creative spirit. The best inspiration process often occurs with strong ideas that are critically thought out within the span of a few hours. Driediger advises, when it comes to creativity, quality is superior to quantity. As for health habits: sleep is always recommended to keep the mind sharp, eating well throughout the day to maintain a stable blood glucose level, and making sure your areas of work are tidy (there is no need to spend extra mental effort in figuring out where you left something).
7. Ignore the Scoffers
Ignore is a strong word, but I like where Driediger is coming from. The world is full of haters and doubters. Is it really worth it to weigh each negative response in an attempt to alter your personal creation? Absolutely not. While constructive criticism is valuable, you shouldn’t be fearful of expressing yourself and taking chances. The fact of the matter is: all great creative minds had plenty of doubters. Monumental ideas make people uncomfortable, they may challenge people’s stable point of views. It is only natural that some will be less receptive than others. Driediger would advise you not to worry. It’s cliche, but you should “do you.” Don’t stress the hate, embrace the hate. It will only benefit you in your process of developing your unique, creative product.
You can reach Dr. Judith Gurfein at (212) 722-1920 or (201) 368-3700