I published this in a past blog called “Riffs, Rants and Remarks” in March of 2011. I believe it’s important so I’d like to share it again.
Strategies for Increased Creativity
1) Believe you are creative. It’s surprising to me how many people think they aren’t creative. I think creativity is an instinct we are all born with. Some people eventually develop the belief that they aren’t creative. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that ensures you’re defeated even before you start.
2) Feel free to make mistakes. There is often more than one right answer, to begin with, and realizing this can alleviate the fear that we develop of making mistakes. The next step is to realize that it’s not “wrong” to try something and fail. It’s just a natural part of the process, and continues to be so for the most creative people.
3) Re-capture “play”. Creating anything comes out of a sense of play, of having fun. We develop this sense, as we grow older, that play is something for kids or for adults as a break from work. We also develop a belief that play is a distraction from important matters (a necessary one to avoid too much stress) but that it has no practical value in itself. In other words, most adults believe play is frivolous and extraneous. However, creative productivity will only flow from a sense of play. Artists of all walks – the pros, as it were – learn to conjure this at any time.
4) Explore new things. Often creative ideas come out of experiencing something new (to you). The combination of your unique combination of experiences – in the broadest sense possible, i.e. the sum of all your past sensory input, which is a huge part of what makes you uniquely “you” – with a new experience can result in a wonderful creative output, like two chemicals combining for a dramatic result.
5) Avoid what is practical sometimes. In today’s society we have cultivated a widespread belief that everything we do must be practical somehow, that it have some utilitarian value. We, therefore, become slaves of practicality. Of course, we can’t avoid practical matters entirely – we have to get things done! But this way of thinking doesn’t have to apply to all aspects of life. In our society, we primarily view music, for example, as something entertaining people or relaxing people, and, therefore, we view it as a commodity or service. Musicians know it is more – it is a primal drive, and a source of true joy, something we must do regardless of “what for”. If you’re in a habit of always thinking “I need to do this because”, you will not develop the habit of doing something for the sake of doing it. Only through the freedom this habit affords can the creative process be supported.
6) Go for quantity over quality. You will get trapped or stifled by constantly judging how “good” your efforts or their outcomes are. In order to come up with a good idea, write a good story, compose a good song, paint a good picture, etc., we must go through the process of creating stuff that might end up being considered “sub-par” (by ourselves or anyone else). If you worry about this beforehand, you won’t reach your creative potential and you might not even get started.
7) Listen to your hopes and dreams. They highlight more about you than anything from your experience. They are the beacons for where you should be exploring and they will inform your personal creative process more than any skill that you have. This is the realm of your imagination, and your imagination is the ground from which all things creative stem.