Are you interested in creativity? My guess is that you probably have some need for creativity. It could be writing a book, creative art, cooking, craft or something else? Maybe it’s why you’re reading a blog post from a writer pondering the process of creativity in 2018. You don’t necessarily need a creative job to be oriented towards creativity, lots of roles require the technique of brainstorming. Perhaps some part of your life requires creativity or yearns for creativity? A lot of creative minds have pondered the meaning and the purpose of creativity and I’m going to sprinkle this blog post with some quotes on creativity. It’s an interesting way to turn the prism around on the topic of creativity.
“Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.”
– Dorothy Parker
Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, although as a working journalist, this isn’t possible, but I have to confess that just didn’t realise that creativity was such as thing these days. Try a Google search on ‘creativity’ and see what comes back in the results. I started this post with a little bit of googling to see what is being said about creativity and where, and what I found was a surprise. If you’re not convinced that creativity is such a thing, cast your eye over the Medium Creativity mini-site that has a host of articles on the topic.
Perhaps it’s the pressure to stay ahead of the game that’s giving rise to the focus on creativity. Maybe it’s the relentless drive for innovation that’s changing most aspects of our lives, but driven no doubt by technology, which can’t happen without some creative thinking. Even the venerable NY Times has turned its attention to helping its readers live a better life with creativity. Or is it just that busy lives of work, commuting, kid-wrangling, endless rounds of life admin and domestics and the blurring effects of scroll on social media has given rise to people looking to ignite their minds through creativity. I’m not sure, but please tell me in the comments if you’re looking for creativity and why.
What is creativity?
There have been some wonderful minds that have turned their attention to creativity. I’ve peppered this blog post with a few quotes that seek to try and put a definition on creativity. A strange and unknowable process of generating something that once wasn’t in that way.
If I was pressed for a definition of creativity, I’d say in it’s simplest form it’s a process of looking at things with a different view or sometimes imagining something that hasn’t existed before that generates ideas.
“Creativity … is the relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert
I’ve recently become interested in creativity. Since turning to freelance writing I’ve had a bit of extra time to think beyond the usual parameters of my work and I’ve become interested in the notion of creativity. I’ve also had to cause to focus on creativity in realising I need to continually create new ideas for stories and possibly even new ways of working through my own site. In my early foray into creativity I’ve already realised that creativity can be incorporated into our lives while carrying on in our routines of work and running our lives. I’ve also looked at creativity and seen anew how some people are creative in more ways than one and that creativity doesn’t just have to be artistic creativity. Have I found a new creativity project? Well at this stage, I haven’t, however, I’m not too bothered by that because I’m enjoying the thinking about creativity stage and challenging myself to see creativity as part of life, not separate from it in some other sphere.
I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book on creativity and creative lives Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear at the moment. Gilbert is the author of the phenomenally successful book Eat, Pray, Love a personal memoir of her journey through three countries after her divorce that was adapted into a movie staring Julia Roberts. I came to it through the blog of another writer who mentioned she was reading it and looking for a new creative project. As I mentioned above, I was in a phase of change, and fairly significant change at that, from Sydney, Australia to London, England and permanent staff journalist job to freelance writer and analysing the changing landscape of the media and the process of creating content. Recently I’ve added blogger to my CV with a new arts and culture site, Some Notes From A Broad.
“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.”
– George Bernard Shaw
Always dreamt of writing a novel but waiting for the right time? Do you want to take up painting ? Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes and can be expressed by each of us in our own way. You don’t need a TEDTalk to consider yourself creative, although if you’re looking for inspiration on the topic and want to see some new ideas on creativity, these can be an easy way to lose a few hours and get you thinking on the topic of creativity.
Gilbert believes that creative living is the courage to go hunting for your treasures or unexplored capacities and what you find is the ‘big magic’ of your own creativity. She’s at pains to explain that she’s not talking exclusively about a life in the arts, instead it’s a life of an ongoing curiosity, rather than fear. It’s a very egalitarian definition of creativity that can fit all types of activity and all types of lives. There’s no need to chuck in your job, leaving. your partner or run away to a studio on the Left Bank in Paris to embrace creativity.
I found the section on the creative process and the act of being creative resonated with me for a lot of reasons that I will try and explain. It is a process. To paraphrase, Gilbert says that possessing a creative mind … it needs to work or it will cause trouble.
“Give your mind a job to do or else it will find a job to do and you might not like the job it invents.” Her point is that rather than creativity being a burden or something that drives us mad, it actually saves our sanity and creates a relief from ourselves. It’s not necessarily being amazing or being creatively brilliant, it’s a way to have a creative adventure and gain a souvenir.
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you don’t bring forth what is within you, what you don’t bring forth will destroy you.”
It’s a quote Gilbert includes from the Gospel of Thomas. It sounds a lot more interesting and productive than confession, although the process of telling, like therapy, relies on the benefit of expressing that which is within you.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
– Maya Angelou
Just how do people come up with new ideas? It can take a lot of work if you labour the process of generating ideas in trying too hard to be creative.
Gilbert also believes that ideas come to you and if you’re ready to hear their knock on the door, you can act on them and make something of it. If not, they’ll take the silent treatment as a sign you weren’t ready or interested in the ideas and they’ll go find someone else who will take them into their lives. I’m not sure that I agree with this, but that’s okay, I’ve still enjoyed the book and there’s a lot of good guidance in it on creativity. Besides as an author of numerous books who has lived in many different situations, perhaps she’s got more experience with this process of ideas than I have had so far.
Can creativity give you the edge? In the business world, they’d tell you it can because it can provide ideas on new opportunities or new ways of doing business that can lead to innovation. It all depends on the process. Who hasn’t attend a workshop or conference and as soon as the large white sheets of butcher’s paper and textas come out felt every idea they’ve ever had start to drain out of them. Oh, that was just me? Okay, full disclosure, I’m not a cheerleader for these things, but I admit that I’ve come to accept them as a part of many jobs and that with the right people and the right facilitator, you can come up with some new thinking. Unfortunately the process can be self-defeating without structure and input to direct the thinking.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
– Albert Einstein
Find A Process
There are hundreds of books and blogs as well as advice articles and even apps on finding a process. Have we complicated it? Perhaps in putting so much pressure on creativity we’ll block ourselves. On the other hand, maybe we’ve forgotten how to get outside ourselves in our modern lives and find ways to think from different angles. I’m not sure, but if you’ve got any thoughts I’d love to hear them in the comments. Yet why do these lightbulb moments seem to come easily to some but are tortured in others? Not being a psychologist, I can’t really answer that except to guess that it’s got something to do with freeing out thinking and giving ourselves permission to look for different ways of expressing things.
- Give yourself permission to be creative.
- Slow down, let your mind wander, get bored, see what strikes you in these moment.
- Change your space like your desk, bedroom or work area.
- Put yourself in a new environment to see things differently.
- Don’t sweat it and stay relaxed about the process .
- Practise asking questions of yourself and others.
- Write some notes, ask some questions then leave it and go to something else and let the mind ruminate on it in the background. Then see what comes up later on.
- Play a game, read some poetry, go for a walk without your music or podcasts.
- Have a pen and notepad in your bag or beside your bed at all times.
- Get an app like Evernote to save ideas, clip articles and email things to yourself for an ideas file.
- Ideas are self-generating and one idea leads to another so listen for your ideas.
- Embrace technology: try an app, try an online courses to help with creativity.
- Read a book or watch a TEDTalk to get inspired.
- Go to an art gallery and be inspired.
- Learn something new.
- Challenge your ways of thinking.