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Do you think creativity is something you can learn?
How? Busy with a full-time job and a family to raise, or refiguring your life with time that is now yours, you think a little creativity will brighten life’s spaces.
- Unfortunately, self-doubt creeps in.
- You worry that you don’t have time to be creative.
- And now, you wonder what creativity is.
In fact, creativity may be the best prescription for a full life.
- Numerous studies show that creativity increases productivity.
- Creativity also improves physical and mental health and slows the effects of aging.
- Well beyond the arts and music, creativity applies to math, science and business.
- College scholarship committees and employers identify candidates who can generate and execute creative, original ideas.
Creativity (Something you can learn?)
As an exercise, Nussbaum, a teacher at Parsons, asked students to draw, write or take photos of their lives on an hourly basis over a week. Next, they were asked to share their record with a friend. They were to determine what enhanced creativity and what did not. Most found that they traveled the same route to work. Besides that, they frequented the same coffee shop. In short, each day, most missed opportunities for new experiences.
What would your day look like if you did this exercise?
Regardless of where you are in your life, you will love all three of my favorite books:
(Clicking on the title will take you to Amazon to get additional information)
- “The Creative Habit, Learn It and Use It For Life” by Twyla Tharp
- “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” by Julia Cameron, and
- “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Every book contains clear, unique descriptions and exciting content. Plus each book will help you learn, uncover or receive creativity or inspiration.
Is it worth rediscovering your “creativity”?
The creative process itself is a source of joy.
We begin something new, when we open up to creativity.
Elizabeth Gilbert in “Big Magic” writes that ”we all need an activity that is beyond the mundane and takes us out of our established and limiting roles in society (mother, employee, neighbor, brother, boss etc). We all need something that helps us forget ourselves for a while-to momentarily forget our age, our gender”. …”our failures and all that we have lost and screwed up”. ……”Prayer can do that for us, community service can do it”….”-but creative living can do it, too. By completely absorbing our attention for a short and magical spell, (creativity) can relieve us temporarily from the dreadful burden of being who we are. Best of all, at the end of your creative adventure, you have….something that you made ..”
What are the requirements for creativity?
Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire in “Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind” list ten things that creative people do differently including:
- Openness to Experience,
- Turning Adversity into Advantage
- Thinking Differently
This book emphasizes current research to provide scientific data and evidence about creativity. In addition, this book supports the science for the thoughts and exercises of the other books and suggests that creativity is something you can learn.
The creative habit
“The Creative Habit, Learn It and Use It For Life” by Twyla Tharp is beautifully and creatively formatted in its printed copy. It opens with an inspired pristine white two page spread with simple large text that reads “I walk into a white room”
In “The Creative Habit”, Twyla Tharp reminds the reader that creativity is important for all of us including parents.
Parents can use creativity skills that help their children learn about the world in new ways.
Anyone can use creative brainstorming for problem solving whether we want to make a sale or fix a technical glitch.
Twyla’s book explores creativity using biographical examples (her own life and the lives of many other creatives) and through interesting exercises.
Exercises to try you to further your personal creativity.
Twyla reminds us that:
- Creativity is a full-time job that includes daily routines and habits.
- Creativity mixes learning, thoughtful reflection and time.
3. Creativity begins with personal habits.
Habits include a start-up ritual that will put you in your creative space and propel you forward daily.
An established working environment enhances creativity.
She discusses overcoming distractions and fears. (Note: written before the increased and available distractions of on line communication, and social media).
She would likely agree with the “unplug” suggestions currently discussed in time management
4. Creativity draws on memories including muscle, virtual, sensual, institutional and ancient types of memory.
Memory interprets and connects stored facts, stored feelings or ideas. These memories are then become available to create new interpretations..
5. Creativity requires organization
Examples of organization are fleshed out including her own use of boxes.
How to become creative
The second half of Twyla’s book addresses her “how’s” to become creative.
These include how to persevere, to address difficulties and to address failure using personal examples and thoughtful exercises.
Twyla Tharp includes interesting exercises to explore and further the reader’s own creativity.
Twyla provides exercises to learn to work in solitude since solitude is important to creativity. In addition, she includes exercises to decrease distractions.
You can see the similarity between Twyla’s exercise or chapters and the list of ten things that creative people do differently by Kaufman and Gregoire.
Useful to all of this, this is a wonderful addition to any library.
LINK TO BUY BOOK
The artist’s Way
“The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” by Julia Cameron, in print form, contains inspirational quotations in the margins italicized on most pages.
These quotes are strategically placed so that they relate to the content discussed on the accompanying page.
I love how timeless and evergreen Cameron’s thoughts are.
There are many ideas that resonate with the teachings of current popular life coaches.
Plus, as evidenced by the surrounding quotations, many of these thoughts have been relevant and accurate for a very long time.
Julia Cameron believes that creativity is a “teachable, trackable spiritual process.”
In other words, she believes that creativity is something you can learn.
Her basic tools are her “morning pages” and the “artist date.”
Write “three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness” each and every morning without editing or judgement.
I find revisiting morning pages useful when I am working on something important in my life.
Try to write “morning pages”. You may be surprised at how useful it is in “clearing the way” for the rest of your day. But find out for yourself.
An artist date is time that you commit to nurturing creativity.
Cameron explains that in doing morning pages, you are notifying the universe of your dreams and disappointments.
In contrast, while doing your artist date, you are receiving insight and inspiration.
Chapters set weekly tasks. Each chapter or week contains a particular focus or task designed to reclaim your creativity.
For example, in the first week, she addresses core negative beliefs. Interesting challenges then explore these core negative beliefs more personally and thoroughly.
This book brings joy. Therefore it stays in my library every time I “tidy up”.
Lastly, “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Gilbert’s easy conversational style of writing makes this book feel intimate and extremely personal.
It feels like she is truly speaking to you.
Elizabeth begins this book with her central question: “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”.
“Creative living” is “living a life that is derived more strongly by curiosity than by fear” .
Gilbert says that “A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.”
Furthermore, she writes “Living in this manner-continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you-is a fine art in and of itself”.
Then, with great humor, she lists all the ways one might be afraid to live more creatively.
Favorite Quote (modified into list form to remove the “you’re afraid” start to each statement)
- “You’re afraid you have no talent.
- you’ll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood or -worst of all- ignored.
- there’s no market for your creativity, and therefore no point in pursuing it.
- somebody else already did it better
- everybody else already did it better.
- somebody will steal your ideas, so it’s safer to keep them hidden forever in the dark.
- you won’t be taken seriously.
- your work isn’t politically, emotionally, or artistically important enough to change anyone’s life.
- your dreams are embarrassing.
- that someday you’ll look back on your creative endeavors as having been a giant waste of time, effort, and money.
- you don’t have the the right kind of discipline.
- don’t have the right kind of work space, or financial freedom, or empty hours in which to focus on invention or exploration.
- you don’t have the right kind of training or degree”
And my favorite:
“You’re afraid you’re too fat (I don’t know what this has to do with creativity, exactly, but experience has taught me that most of us are afraid we’re too fat, so let’s just put that on the anxiety list, for good measure.)
- of being exposed as a hack, or a fool, or a dilettante, or a narcissist…….”
Gilbert’s continues by discussing her thoughts about inspiration, work and practice, commitment, and perfectionism.
I hope that you will feel ready to meet your creative muse when you close the last page.
For my Painting Students: Thank you for reading and here is the link for your Kemper Tool.