How to Develop Creativity and Why it Will Save Your Life
edited: Monday, February 18, 2008
By Jeff Brown
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Posted: Monday, February 18, 2008
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You don't need to be a creative genius to tap into the life saving potential of the creative voice within.
What is so great about creativity? Well, without it you would not exist. Neither would the pen I initially used to write this article or the software and computer that enabled you to read this. The car you drive. The house you live in. The school you attend. The office you work in. The park you play in. On and on. All that exists was at one time a thought in one or several people's minds. All began as a thought somewhere. Of course, the planets, stars, and galaxies were created or organized by great thought or intelligence, that is if you believe in a divine mind of great power, depth and breadth of understanding. But that's up to you. Let's leave that discussion and get back to the one at hand.
It is human kind that has built a greater portion of what we know as civilization: houses, buildings, streets, cars, parks, stadiums, theatres, etc. All of these things began as thoughts. Without creativity or creation very little if anything would exist. Even knowledge. Einstein said that without creativity knowledge would not exist. Einstein was quite the creator or originator, and of course there are others, such as Mozart, McCartney and Lennon, Isaac Newton, Tim Berners-Lee, Steven Jobs, and so on. But how does this relate to you? "Me?" you say, "I'm no Einstein, Mozart . . . Hell, the only thing I create is offensive odor."
Well, even the most allegedly uncreative person has creative ability. Of course, very few of us have innate creative genius but all can create and learn to develop greater creative results through practice. And it is essential in our lives to be able to create. It is through this tool that we are able to find greater solutions to life's challenges: health, relationships, career, marriage, life changes, and so on. And it is our responsibility to find the solutions.
When a problem, issue, or quandary is bearing down on you and you are the one at the center of the storm, whose responsibility is it to make a decision? To discover a way to make things work? This is why tapping into the creative vein that resides in all of us needs to be well lubricated or worked to the point where we can sit down in a brief period of time and come up with a solid solution. So I hope we can agree that creativity, the creative process, is an essential skill everyone should have in place, and that it is not reserved merely for the great thinker. But how do we go about developing this skill?
First, we must recognize it, see it for what it is and work it. And to develop any new skill one must begin with the basics. Just like a guitar player must learn scales and chords a person must learn idea generating techniques. Let's look at a few?
How do you know which ones to use? Well, it depends on you. Are you by nature a creative, open-ended, abstract thinker? Then you're probably best off creating ideas through freewriting--writing sentence after sentence in a free flowing manor. Or are you by nature a more logical, controlled thinker? Then you might be better off using brainstorming or listing--jotting down ideas in fragments or incomplete statements. Or do you learn best through speaking with others? Are you a group learner? Then you'd probably find it most productive to bang your ideas off others using emails, chat rooms, blogs, forums or just a plain old one-on-one conversation. If you're a visual person, you should look into drawing, diagramming, or doodling. But before I go any further, let's take a closer look at the categories of personality types and how they may best work with these idea generating techniques.
An abstract or creative thinker is one who generally doesn't like rules. If you tell them "It goes like this: A, B, C, D, 1, 2, 3, 4," they might say "Well, I like A but let's put it after 3 and B before 1 and how about 3 here and . . . No, no, no, 3 goes here and . . ." If you are one who follows rules and is a little more conservative you'll probably look at the creative thinker and say something like, "This guy is a little light in the head. Elevator doesn't quite reach the top." And it's not that the logical guy is uptight or wrong, but he only sees the purposeful logic of proper order. Not that these types of thinkers, like engineers or accountants, can't be creative. They can. For example, my father, an Ivy League educated mechanical engineer, once took an art class and came home with a very impressive, abstract, Salvador Dali-esque melting clock. Quite creative for a guy who always got mad when my less conservative mind wanted to play as he taught me the well-oiled precision of mathematics.
Bottom line, there are exceptions to the rules. You may be a creative thinker who likes to use brainstorming one day, freewriting the next, and drawing the next. Whatever combination works best for you. Remember that you are the god or goddess of your universe, whatever you say goes. There's no right or wrong or one size fits all. Experiment and see which one or ones work on any occasion you need to create or generate ideas.
Now that you've been exposed to a few idea generating techniques, let's look at some general rules when using them.
Write for a set number of minutes, preferably 10-15. Pen down, or fingers to keyboard, resting only after the time is up. This will force you to not only develop your skills but to pull forth solutions, for you may begin unfocused, writing irrelevant material, but eventually your mind will reveal wisdom and insight you've forgotten or never knew you had.
Don't worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, and so on. You are solely focusing on the idea or solution.
Don't worry about emotion or writing off topic. You may think, "I shouldn't write such mean stuff" "Be so aggressive" "I'm too damn happy." Doesn't matter. If that's where your mind needs to be, so be it. Don't control where the solution or subconscious part of you needs to be to find answers. Even writing off topic is fine. Eventually your brain will get to the idea or solution. Why shouldn't it? It's the reason you're writing, right?
Don't worry about being too simple in your thinking, boring, sloppy, uncreative, uninteresting. Everyone begins bad. Here's a quote that should help: Anything worth doing is worth doing bad until you can do it well.
Finally, you are the creator. You can do no wrong. It is your exercise, used solely for the purpose of getting your ideas down on paper. Whatever comes out of your pen, pencil, or fingertips is perfect.
Why the rules? What are you really trying to do? What we're trying to develop here is the intuitive. The sixth sense. The subconscious. The divine. The intuitive voice. Whatever you call it, this is where problem solving comes from and true genius. Many a writer has said, I don't know what I'm thinking until I write it down. This means that the creative, the solution lies inside the unspoken word within. As you write, you will discover wisdom you never knew you had or had forgotten you had, recall knowledge, information you had forgotten. Why? Who knows. Many have and can continue to speculate but it doesn't matter. What matters is that you get answers to important questions, perhaps life altering answers. Bottom line, great insights, solutions, come from within. And these insights don't come about instantly nor do they come often, at least at first. It takes a lot of work to develop the intuitive muscle, but if you do develop it, great answers will come. And with each attempt made at discovering, not only will the insights become more refined, more often, but your skills to see the unseen will create greater joy and purpose in your life.