Creativity. Oh nooooo… I entered the topic, from which there is no exit. (Nothing left, just to be creative. Starting from now, with this exact sentence). It is also a topic, where one might feel amateur, inexperienced and unsure. Creativity is something most of us definitely want to have, but dont know how to get there (where?), if it is at all possible. We might feel more comfortable in our area of expertise, while creativity is something hard to define. But lets do some inventorisation of the field and perhaps some definite conclusions could arrive.
What is the creativity?
Lets start with definition, because it is hard to talk (and walk) without one common understanding. The largest library says:
Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scientific theory, a musical composition or a joke) or a physical object (such as an invention, a literary work or a painting).
Good start. But this could be read as something small or something big. Do you smell variety of interpretations? Life experience tells that often people have very different perceptions of what is creative. For one, a piece of music or a painting is a clear example of creativity, for other, tasks in the bank could be handled in a creative way. Having in mind wide range of possibilities, how about going with definition that cherish creativity of something small, giving opportunity for everyone to be creative.
Imagine small sparks of creativity on whatever magnitude. If we remove all “big” creative activities, such as painting and composing music, we are left with daily activities at work or home – and they still could be (actually need to be!) approached with creativity. Such as this writing. Would be great to live a twisted, original life, creating new and valuable outcomes every day, would it not?
Tools and Methods of Creativity
It starts to appear in the horizon – it is not so much important what the definition of creativity is, but rather what are the ways and methods to increase and maintain creativity? This goes for all spheres of life, addressing all sort of issues. Let me share few stories and tools how we can boost the creativity.
Morning pages. Try writing every day, in the morning, three pages of everything that comes to your mind. Do it 12 weeks and see what happens! This is the core element to enhance creativity suggested in the book The Artists Way – Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, written by Julia Cameron. Having written morning pages already for 8 weeks daily (except 3 days probably), still can not feel a clearly defined effect, but technique is definitely worth experimenting. Author suggests to hold at least 12 weeks for the effect to fully show up.
Technique. Pages are meant to be written immediately after the wake up. Non-stop three pages writing. Nothing should be hidden or constrained. Pages should not be shown to anybody, including yourself (only after a while pages could be read). There has to be a constant flow so that the speed of writing would kill the inside censor. Writings should be continuous to release all subconscious and conscious constrains, fears, practicalities, barriers for doing creative work later. Morning pages are not meant to be creative, they are only to release all clutter and garbage. The philosophy is too attractive not to try, and soon enough “we begin to sort through the differences between real feelings, which often are secret, and our official feelings, those on the record for the public display”.
Even though creativity has not noticeably increased yet (if ever), morning pages could be useful to write down dreams (how great would be to understand your dreams more?), since some people strangely have too few dreams and even those rare fragments are not very creative (!), just regularities, work related, nothing interesting, too little metaphysical, not enough theatrical comparing to the dreams of some other people (space for observations later). Morning pages are excelent place for diary notes of previous day and life philosophy (though, this could lead to quitting writing a diary in the evenings, which is questionable practice, since self-reflection is very helpful) and priorities list for the day (most important tasks to do).
“We become original, because we become something specific: an origin from which works flows” – Julia Cameron
An author claims helping thousands of artists to boost their creativity and few became world-famous writers and directors. Julia Cameron has an interesting biography with two movies as a director, which could (or not) have some links with the fact that she is an ex-wife of famous movie director Martin Scorsese. Some of her thoughts about creativity are worth noticing:
“As we gain or regain our creative identity, we lose the false self we were sustaining” – Julia Cameron
Beside morning pages, Julia Cameron designed an interesting 12 weeks creativity course with various tasks to release creative powers. Even though she sometimes tends to shift quite strongly to the topic of God and spirituality themes to describe meanings, there are lots of valuable to-do tasks.
Artist’s date. Once in a week try to arrange one of few hours time (a proper date) for only yourself, for your creative child, to visit or do something creative. It could be a theater, concert or a walk. Spend some time with yourself in a creative atmosphere without limitations, filling the glass of inspiration.
Affirmations. Julia Cameron suggests writing 10 positive sentences about your creativity and repeat every morning. It sounds like a prayer and that already pushes away and disturbs as an association to religion. However, repeating something over time eventually strengthens morale and confidence. More about auto-suggestion was written by Napoleon Hill in his best-selling book Think and Grow Rich. Haven’t tried creativity affirmations, but still following Napoleon Hill’s advice every morning to repeat desire (goal), something to give in return, definite action plan and try imagining having all this.
Five imaginary lives. Write five stories of who you would be otherwise. My imaginary lives are film director, web designer, lindy hop dancer, basketball coach and professor in entrepreneurship and innovation.
Circle of fulfillment. Draw a pizza and divide into six pieces. Label spirituality, exercise, play, work, friends, romance and adventure. Place a dot in each slice at the degree of fulfillment – closer to the middle is bad, further from center – great. Connect the dots. Do it once in a while and observe your level of satisfaction in different fields. This is a great visualisation tool to self monitor and see where creativity could be hammered. Subsequently, write 10 tiny changes to alleviate the situation.
Childhood room. Describe or draw your childhood room. Write five characteristics you liked in yourself, five things accomplishments, five favorite foods.
Obviously rotten habits. Write three obviously rotten habits and three subtly rotten habits. Point an arrow out of them to indicate little steps for a change.
Nurturing friends. Write three persons who nurture you and write three persons whom you admire and indicate for what exactly.
“Each of us has an inner compass. This is an instinct that points us towards health. It warns us we are on the dangerous ground, and it tells when something is safe and good for us .. follow your inner compass .. ” – Julia Cameron
Five things. Write five hobbies that sound fun, five classes would like to take, five things would never do, but which sounds fun!, five things would like to have, five things would enjoy doing, five things used to enjoy doing, but not anymore, five silly things to try once.
Time travel. This is a cool task. Imagine and describe yourself at 80 years old, what have you done last thirty years. Then write a letter to yourself as if you are 80 years old to advice what to do with your life the next years. Next, imagine and describe yourself at 8 years old, what did you like to do back then. Again, write letter to yourself, saying what are your future expectations, desires and forecast.
(to be continued later)