Earlier on this year, a good friend of mine asked me what creativity is. I can’t remember what I told her, but I remember thinking then, that this would actually make an interesting blog post if I ever did get around to setting up my blog. Well, now I have a blog…and here is that post:
Creativity? What is it? Is it the forte of the artsy types? Something reserved for those blessed with the mystical genius of music, sculpture, architecture, fine arts, dance, etc? Well yes…and no. Creativity broken down to its essence really is expression, because, creativity speaks of creating, i.e of expression, because all creation is a form of expression.
Creativity is also more widely understood as the application of thought processes and expressive techniques to generate new, innovative and novel ideas, products and works. To be creative is to bend the rules, to reconsider, to turn the world upside down and rediscover it anew. And contrary to popular opinion, It is more akin to a process of discovering than begetting. Scientists are just as creative as Artists. It is the same basic process, with various forms of manifestations. The Scientist explores ideas, physical laws, nature, theories and makes new associations, pushing the boundaries, deconstructing models, reconstructing new ones, birthing new ideas, theories, new inventions. The Artist explores ideas, concepts, thoughts, nature, people and makes new associations, deconstructing other works, reconstructing new ones, birthing new ideas, pieces, transmitting dreams, emotions and paradigms.
Creativity is noble business. We are after all hardwired to procreate and continue our species. So if we are so ‘creative’ in our primal natures, how much so in our higher faculties. And in everyone, is that aching deep desire to create something, to pen that story, sing that song, invent the new chair, create a new business, paint a new masterpiece, and so on. It’s just that sadly, we silence that inner voice, stifle that desire. But creation is part and parcel of life and necessary for the human existence. We must reawaken that voice, reignite that fire and begin to express our gifts and truly live.
In other words, be creative.
But how? You ask. Maybe you are a ‘creative’ type…a musician, a visual artist, actor, whatever. You just want to know how to tap into more and more of your creative juices. Or maybe you never thought of yourself as creative. But now you understand that you create, in your job, in your business, in raising a family. You want to know how to be more creative in all that, maybe even cross over to the artsy side. These are some ideas.
Make friends with your genius
You are a genius. Yes, you reading right now. You are a genius. Or strictly speaking, you have a genius. There is an area of life and existence you have a natural knack for. You may not be able to sing or dance or act to save your life. But perhaps you instinctively understand relationships and how to deal with people, or maybe you are a brilliant communicator. We are repeatedly told that only a select few are geniuses, they are the elite, the hyper creative, the ones with IQs on the other side of 150. But the truth is, there is something out there we can do naturally well. Maybe not as good as the best, but when you are here, it is the most natural thing ever. You are in your state of ‘flow’. This is your genius. This is your box of crayons. Find your genius, your own box of crayons. Leave other people’s boxes alone. Okay? You creativity will be best with your own crayons. Do you!
There is ABSOLUTELY no creativity without precedent. You need a frame of reference. I’m talking to the ‘artsy’ ones right now especially. You want to grow in your craft? You must explore. Embrace the world, look, listen, touch, feel to stuff…a LOT of stuff, as much as you possibly can. Observe, listen, dissect, analyse. In one word…EXPLORE. In your field, outside your field. Inspiration (ah..the gift of the gods) comes from anywhere and everywhere. Fill up your mental libraries with as many ideas and precedents as possible and your creativity will sky rocket. If creativity is the arrangement of known units in new configurations, then the more units there are, the more possible configurations (the more creativity).
Put the hours in
There is no going around this one gents. You will not be Picasso over night. You need to put the hours in. Want to be really good at something? Malcom Gladwell places the time-price for mastery at 10, 000 hours. That’s quite a while. You will need to invest the time and toil on your craft. In fact, talent only gives you a head start. You must hone your skill and practise to become great at what you do. The more time you spend on a thing, the better you become, the more creative you become at it.
Stare into the abyss
In the animated movie Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Batman says to his double from the parallel universe Owlman, ‘There is a difference between you and me…we both looked into the abyss…but when it looked back at us…you blinked’ (Such a Kick-ass Line!!!..Whoop Whoop!). Now I don’t know if this is absolutely universal, but it seems to me like anyone who has every attempted anything worth doing (i.e. create something) has signed up for a lot of torture and angst. Yes, a lot of the time it is all fun and games and an such amazing experience and privilege to create and birth these wonderful things in our minds. But in that process is a lot of lows, a lot of self-doubt and depression. You will question your talent, your relevance. You will wonder why you even tried. People will diss your work and You will want to die. Why? When we create, we give of ourselves, our very essence. Now that’s vulnerability. Yes you will come to hang over the cliff, and stare into the inky blackness of the abyss. But even when the euphoric sun is gone and all that’s left is the dead quiet of your creative night. You will still hear the whisperings of your creative dream, the unrelenting grip of your ideas over your heart. Never let them go. Don’t blink.
Alright, enough of the gloom and doom. If you going to create…do me a favour, have fun. Go bonkers, crazy with it. Doodle, freestyle, play nonsense, run around do whatever. Creativity is noble and serious work. Have fun with it J
No one can be you better than you. Being creative, and I mean creating from the core of who you are is scary business. And if you are actually DOING IT, kudos to you. People will talk, some will push you forward and encourage you. Thank them, embrace them. Some will try to tear you down. Ignore them…keep creating. Remember, no one really knows you as well as you know you..except God. So dust off the haters and keep walking. And don’t be scared to switch the script when you feel its time to. Create from your gut, be honest to your voice.
*Post note: In 2006, I read a great piece by Hugh Macleod titled ‘How to be Creative’. Amazing stuff, a must read for anyone trying to be creative or increase creativity. Find it here