How to… Cultivate Your Creativity, Part 1 of 2

What is creativity?

Let’s start by saying what creativity is not. First, it’s not a talent that some people have and some people do not. It’s also not limited to those in the visual and performing arts or to just one field or activity. Creativity is not a quirky tendency or a genetic trait.

Instead, creativity is simply seeing the world differently than others. It’s solving problems that others seem unable to solve, seeing solutions that others couldn’t see. Today, creativity is better known as innovation. More importantly, creativity is an attitude and a skill, a practiced state of mind that everyone can develop.

In 52 Ways to Get Your Creative Self to Listen, Rachel McNaught defines creativity as “the ability to think beyond what you’ve been taught, to ask questions until you get the answers you need to pull something unique from inside you.”

Why is creativity important for everyone?

Every person has constraints they must work within, a poet who must stick to rhyme or a scientist bound by the laws of physics, and working within these constraints can often breed great creativity. Dr. Seuss writing Green Eggs and ham using only 50 words provides a terrific example of creativity that may not have happened without constraints.

Another benefit is that cultivating creativity in any area tends to spill over into all other areas of life. Not only that, but being creative fulfills a need within all humans to create. Not feeling the creative urge? Many experts believe we’ve been taught to suppress it, and this is why we no longer actively feel the need to create. Picasso expressed this sentiment well when he said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up.”

Creativity is also important because it allows our intellects to flourish. If we keep in mind that just as physically and spiritually we are what we eat, our intellects are also the products of what we feed them.

Finally, the importance of creativity shows even more when we realize that our creativity is how we respond to life. Stimulating creativity can potentially lessen negative emotional responses to life’s frustrations and disappointments.

How are you creative?

So knowing that everyone can cultivate creativity and that creativity provides immense benefit, let’s now consider the different ways creativity might show up from one individual to the next.

Since creativity is not a predetermined personality trait, it really can show up in a myriad of ways in a person’s life. The challenge then is to figure out how to get that creativity to show up, and the answer, simply, is effort.

Milton Glaser, legendary graphic designer, fully believes that there are no true creative types “as if creative people can just show up and make stuff up. As if it were that easy. I think people need to be reminded that creativity is a verb, a very time-consuming verb. It’s about taking an idea in your head, and transforming that idea into something real, and that’s always going to be a long and difficult process. If you’re doing it right, it’s going to feel like work.”

The post How to… Cultivate Your Creativity, Part 2 of 2 discuss suggestions for cultivating creativity with 5 ways to feed your intellect and promote innovation.

DISCUSSION: How do you feel about the status of your creativity? 

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16 thoughts on “How to… Cultivate Your Creativity, Part 1 of 2

  1. Wow, I love this Kari! It makes me feel much better about my creativity! Plus I love this: I think people need to be reminded that creativity is a verb, a very time-consuming verb. It’s about taking an idea in your head, and transforming that idea into something real, and that’s always going to be a long and difficult process. If you’re doing it right, it’s going to feel like work.”

    I have this idea in my head that writing is always easy for everyone else. So it's so refreshing and encouraging to read this. Thanks for a great post – just what I needed this morning.

  2. "If we keep in mind that just as physically and spiritually we are what we eat, our intellects are also the products of what we feed them." Also as it is with our physical well being we have to exercise our mental attributes to expand on what we are capable of doing.

    Mr Glaser is right; when we look at someone we think is very creative and we are able to know more about them we usually find out they have been untold hours into whatever it is good they do.

    In terms of my creativity I try to work at thinking outside the box with work and other areas of my life. I try to look at stuff from different viewpoints to see if there maybe more to something than at first appears.

    • Creativity is definitely hard work, but there are so many ways we can make our creativity come alive. That's what Friday's post gets at. The ways you mention for stimulating your creativity are good ones!

  3. Hey Kari, I don't know that I am by nature creative. But I do like to take ideas and expand on them making them come to life. Like stitchery where I am the one choosing the colors to use on some design already drawn. Or taking a basic recipe and adding my own touches to change it to fit my tastes. And when it comes to writing a sermon or a blog I think seeking God's guidance to help us put the words together helps us deliver not only a creative and intersting message, but one that honors God. After all we are the creation of the greatest Creator of all time!
    I like your idea about moving things around to give yourself more time to think, pray, and apply what you hear and then share it with us midweek, when what we heard on Sunday is wearing thin. Thanks! Have a great creative week!

    • Research shows that everyone is creative, but evidence of that shows up in various ways and depends on if and how we cultivate it. All of the examples you gave definitely show your creativity at work. After all, we were created by a creative God, and since we are made in His image, we too are creative beings. Friday's post will give more ideas on how to stimulate creativity in our lives, and I hope they are ways everyone can apply easily to their lives. Thanks for the vote of confidence in my format changes. I think it's going to be a good thing for sure!

  4. The 50 words comment sparked interest in me. I did not know that Green Eggs and Ham was wrote only using 50 words. You may know the story but I did not and found it interesting that Theodor Seuss Geisel made a bet with his publisher that he could write a story using only 50 words and that is where Green Eggs and Ham came from.

    • I think I did know that, actually. Years ago when I taught English classes, we had a day focused on Theodore Giesel as a way to promote thinking differently and more creatively to my students. I seem to remember that now that you mention it. He was also very political and used to create political cartoons, which makes sense considering even some of his children's stories address political issues. Glad this sparked your interest and that you followed that spark!

  5. I love your point about creativity being how we respond to life. That's so true.
    I'd like to think I'm pretty creative. But I think my creativity works in a certain way – it's hard to explain. I'm just wired a certain way so I am creative in a certain sphere. But then some people are creative in totally different ways and blow me away in some areas.

    • I do think we all have a natural, creative bent, but I also think we all have hidden, undiscovered creativity too. We just need to figure out how to unleash it. Friday's post will help with that.

  6. Pingback: Sunday Reflections: Are You Listening? | Struggle to Victory

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  8. I really enjoyed this post Kari. I like that you shared about creativity being a trait vs. a talent. It shows that anyone can and should increase their personal creativity.

    • I'm glad, Dan. It is important to realize that anyone can be creative and creativity can come from anywhere. We can't put ourselves in a box when it comes to creativity, especially since we were created by the most creative being in existence!

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