Monday, February 24, 2014

This post is for Kim: I've been thinking about her 'creativity' question and I will try to give a response.

A student emailed me randomly late last week and asked if I could teach her to be creative. I replied, "I'm not sure it's possible," which has plagued me all weekend. I began to ask myself, "Am I creative? Did I learn this? Did I inherit it? Can creativity be taught? What's the secret?"

Because I couldn't pinpoint a single lesson to become creative, I reflect on my own trajectory to establish a bulleted list:
  • Surround yourself with jokesters, artists, musicians, dancers, writers, and imps. 
  • At a young age, I had the blessing to watch my grandmother do as she did and, without formal training or a necessary drive to be creative - she just was. I think she accomplished this because she was a listener, a watcher, and a thinker. She chose to make sense of her world with colors, words, journals, and storytelling.
  • Give yourself permission to walk to the drumbeat of a different flautist and to take time to tip toe through the roses, while stopping to smell the daffodils. In other words, learn the norms of what you're supposed to do, but then find ways to do this with a little funk and originality. Break the rules here and there and don't care what others think.
  • Read. Read. Read. Read. 
  • Question. Ask questions about everything and seek to find your own answers.
  • Hang out with people who are NOT LIKE YOU. Find other perspectives who help you to think differently about the world and who frustrate you, make you laugh, teach you new things, and remind you why you'd rather not be like them. The point is, the more diverse the personalities you surround yourself with, the more diverse your viewpoints will become.
  • Pay attention to colors and look at everything as potential art that has meaning. 
  • Rearrange reality - live inside your head some by wondering "What if this happened?" Put strange ideas together that normally don't go together. Wonder what the result would be when you do.
  • Keep record of your ideas. It began for me with journals and notebooks, but now I'm rather conditioned to doing this with blogs.
  • Teach yourself new things every year.
  • Don't get distracted by all the chaos that misleads you down paths of wasted time. Instead, rather than passively absorbing the world, set out each day to provide the material others will have to think about. Play with their minds and expectations to deliver something a little more unusual 
  • Seize the day with humor and hard work.
And with this list I just accomplished more thinking than I thought was possible about being creative. I would venture to say that the 10,000 hour rule applies, too. In order to master anything, 10,000 hours must be invested. So, I would also speculate patience will help, too, as you invest these hours towards what it is you're after.

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