What Your Creativity Needs

paint brushes on a white and orange canvas
Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

“Everyone knows that when you get bitten by a werwolf, you become a werewolf yourself. But what if the werewolf bites a goldfish? Does it become a Were-fish? And what is the wolf mindlessly nibbles on a leg of a chair? Chair-wolf?”

That is how Neil Gaiman describes creativity as the coming together of two unrelated ideas in his MasterClass.

We often think that creativity is reserved for a select few, the gifted ones, and that we ourselves could never write that book or compose that song. And yet… talent is only part of the equation.

Here are three fundamentals to unearth your own creativity.

Creativity Needs Space

You cannot force creativity. Unfortunately, hypnotising your coffee mug won’t give you a boost of ideas before you’re dashing into the next meeting. Creativity needs space.

Mihály Csíkszentmihályi has found that it takes approximately 45 minutes focussed time to get into flow. Flow? That is the immersion in an activity that makes you forget time and space.

Flow is an incredibly rewarding experience, and for Csíkszentmihályi the basis of happiness.

And who wouldn’t want to experience this? But when was the last time you were in flow? What were you doing?

Unfortunately, too often we face too many meetings, emails and to-dos in our daily lives as obstacles to flow.

But you can take small steps. Practices such as timeboxing or the Pomodoro technique can be useful to carve out a sliver of creative space in your day. Even 15 minutes can suffice to get started, as long as you do start somewhere. Remember, just like a sprouting seedling our concentration ability grows with gentle care.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” — Stephen King

Creativity Needs Routine

Stephen King, Coldplay und Michael Jordan are only a few successful creative people who attribute their success to practice. Seth Godin even titled his book about shipping creative work “The Practice” to make this point. If you think creativity is just for a select few, you’re quite wrong and may be losing out on your potential.

Same as with space, start small but start somewhere and become consistent.

Manage your energy, not your time, and establish when you have more or less energy for certain activities. There is no better or worse — both early birds and late night owls can be incredibly creative, just at different times of day.

What is your ideal time to focus? To be active? To learn?

As with every other routine your brain will get used to the creative requirements at a certain time and eventually your idea generation will automatically be kick-started.

Creativity Needs Skill

Audi’s slogan “Vorsprung durch Technik” refers to their competitive edge through technology.

The same concept applies to creativity.

Indeed, practiced does not make perfect, just consistent. As the famous 10,000 hour rule has been called into question, experiments and learning have been proven to be key. Without learning, practice makes consistently imperfect.

Next to practice creativity also needs a constant development of your own technique, your knowledge and your experience.

“Just because some people can do something with little or no training it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training.” — Carol Dweck

How can you more often and more effectively

  • learn from your own experience?
  • learn from others?
  • trial small-scale experiments to just have a go at things?

Takeaway

There is creative potential in every one of us. And yet, we falsely believe that only a select few can express their creativity in inspiring ways. And yet, creativity is more verb than noun. Creativity is observation and asking questions, being curious without judgement.

This requires practice and a new view to trying and failing, because every successful project is always the result of many failed attempts. The reverse may be true as well: The more you practice, the more you change your view of the world, the more you see beauty and potential.

Woudn’t that be a wonderful thing?

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Ulrike Kroska

Ulrike Kroska

Making Leadership Simple.

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