“You dance inside my chest where no one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.”
-Rumi, The Essential Rumi
Like I said last week I think that creativity is one of the most valuable skills you can have. Especially in this day and age as we face a new digital revolution in the working community. Anything you can do, that a machine can’t, is of immense value today.
What is creativity really? It’s strange how something that we all think we know, like creativity, is so misunderstood. When I mention to someone that I’m trying to be more creative, the usual reply is something along the lines of, “Oh, how fun! Have you taken up knitting, then?” Why is it that some people think that being creative is simply working with your hands, making stuff? I’m sorry, but unless you’re knitting some really original stuff you’re not being creative. Not if you’re simply following a recipe. A quick google search defines creativity as the use of imagination or original ideas to create something. The way I see it creativity is a way of thinking and then putting that thinking into creation. Making something from your imagination, not from a recipe.
So now that we’ve defined creativity, the real question is. How do we become more creative? To answer that I think we have to look at where creativity comes from. So where does it come from? Where does inspiration come from? The ancient Greeks and Romans believed the source of human creativity to be it’s own entity, one that was assigned to every person at birth. They called this entity a daemon (Greek) or a genius (Roman) The Romans believed that artists weren’t geniuses, they had a genius. So now you know that when your creations fail, it’s not really your fault, just blame it on your daemon.
I think it’s safe to say that today, the common view is that creativity is a product of the mind, although many believe that it comes from “the higher self” part of you and not from the ego/identity part. Either way, the creative process is hard to explain and sometimes it can really feel like you do have a daemon dancing inside you, calling you, begging you to get to work. However we see it, creativity can not be forced by will. It has to come naturally and I think one of the mains keys to becoming more creative is to slow down and pay more attention to your inner world. Below I will list some things that has helped me get back in touch with my creativity. I say get back in touch with, as I believe we are all born creative and unlearn it as we grow to fit into the strict standards of society.
- The worst enemy of creativity is judgement and worry of what other people think. To be truly creative I think we must learn to listen to our own voice and don’t be afraid to make “mistakes” or be perceived as different or weird by others.
- First learn the skill, then get creative. Though I’m all for imagination and innovative ideas, it’s hard to put these ideas into action if you don’t master your craft yet. Like Picasso said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like a artist.” Whether it’s photography, writing, designing, painting, dancing or whatever, never forget to practice.
- Meditate. Meditation does wonders to quiet the “monkey-mind”, so you can get in touch with what lies inside you.
- Spend time in nature. Nature really is the greatest artist and spending time outdoors also quiets the mind. Go for a 15-20 minute walk everyday.
- Work out. There is nothing like a hard work out to cure that writers block. Working out not only strengthens the body, but also the mind.
- Listen to music. Music is super inspiring and particularly classical music is said to boost creativity.
- Surround yourself with art. Visit museums and art galleries when you have the chance. If this is not possible look for inspiration online.
- Create something. Anything. I like to make mood boards by cutting out inspiring pictures from magazines. Trust me when I say that this is much more powerful than simply looking at inspirational pictures, because you are actually producing something yourself.
- Do something “new” as often as possible. Try a new dish at a restaurant, make something you’ve never had for dinner, take a different path that the one you always take, travel somewhere you’ve never been. Even better, do something slightly uncomfortable everyday.
- Buy books like “Finish this book” or “This is not a book” by Keri Smith. They may appear to be for kids, but in fact thinking in a childlike way is what’s going to make us more creative. These books give you small exercises that force you to think in new and different ways.
- Practice mindfulness. Go for a walk. Observe the light, the trees and everything around you. Listen to the noises, notice the scents in the air. Practice seeing things from different angles.
These were just some of my personal tips. If you have any tips on what you do when you feel stuck and out of ideas don’t be afraid to let me know in the comments.