As a crafter/maker/artist I occasionally hear “you’re so creative, I could never have come up with that!”. This statement baffles and frustrates me.
For starters I often hear it most from people that I admire as a creator. For example my mom, who I consider to have been a HUGE inspiration in my growing up a creative person, is the most frequent exclaimer that she “couldn’t have thought of that”. I’ve also heard this nonsense from my friends who I look up to as artists with skills way beyond mine.
Well, in a way, you *couldn’t* have thought of the same idea I had because you’re a different person. You would have come up with some other, no less wonderful, creative idea! An idea that I couldn’t have invented.
The thing about creativity, the thing that most inspires, grabs, and moves me is it’s uniqueness and ubiquity. ALL my ideas come from somewhere; a dream, something I saw (either natural or man-made), something I heard, and often the art created by others. We are constantly soaking up ideas, sights, sounds, flavors, and feelings. All of these are sources of inspiration for creating.
I’ve always described myself as creative, and I think THAT is the only difference between the so-called creative people and those who do not know they are creative.
So how can you be creative, or be *more* creative? Here are four steps:
1. KNOW that you are creative.
Never ever ever fall into the stereotype of thinking that because you’re not a painter/photographer/poet/whatever as a profession that you are not creative.
Can you whip up a delicious meal from whatever’s in the fridge/pantry?
Do you have a green thumb?
Do you knit/sew/make furniture/blacksmith?
Then you ARE creative.
Creativity, in my opinion, is simply the act of imparting your energy onto something else, creating for its own sake or to express or nurture. Any time you feel ‘flow’, are in ‘the zone’, or otherwise feed your soul you are creating.
2. Ask questions, be curious.
“That’s a great painting/story/dish, and what if…?” This to me is one of the most obviously conscious ways of thinking to inspire creativity.
What if you try to recreate that dish you had at a restaurant changing one ingredient? Or all but one? What if you recreate a famous painting/sculpture but with a twist? A different medium, a different intention?
Do you love animals? Ask yourself how they would perceive what you’re seeing, tasting, hearing. Use that as inspiration to write/sing/paint/draw their perspective. Are you a scientist or engineer? Ask yourself how things work, what if they worked according to a different principle? What would that look, feel, sound like?
3. Never say NO to yourself.
After you ask yourself those questions, DON’T SHOOT ANY OF THEM DOWN! There’s no such thing as a bad creative idea.
Critiques are an important part of the creative process, but they come much later, first you have to bring ideas to life before you can really analyze them.
4. Explore & experiment.
If your idea was to paint something explore doing so in different media (watercolor, acrylic, ink, or even pastels). If your idea was to write something try different formats (story, poem, magazine article).
In the process you may discover that your idea may not be a painting or a written piece. Maybe it should be a song, sculpture, or garden.
BONUS Step: 5. Never turn off *creativity*.
Ideas can come from anywhere, any time. In the last few weeks I had a terrible chest cold and a fit of coughing inspired an idea for a digital painting (I’ll post it on the blog when I actually finish it).
Never ever assume that running errands, cleaning the house, or even being sick can’t be fabulous times to get creative!