Creativity is like a muscle, it needs to be stretched, flexed, and repeatedly used to make the most of it. Many people feel that they are just not the creative “type,” but in reality all people can be creative if they choose to flex that muscle. If you have succumbed to the thought pattern that you lack a particular creative gene, feel free to take a cue from those that nourished their creativity and adopt these habits.
1. Feel the fear and do it anyway…
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” –Sylva Plath
Anxiety is but mere fuel for the creative. They have become accustomed to that uncomfortable burning that permeates your very being when a new idea has generated. They recognize that it isn’t necessarily a warning to stop, but an indicator that they are on the right path, after all there is little separation between failure and success, as the former is a stepping-stone to the latter.
Having trouble overcoming anxiety? Recognize it and give in to what it feels like. Keep in mind, most of our fears, outside of our natural fight or flight reaction, are not based in the present moment, but rather anxiety over what might be in the future. Be mindful of the moment you are in and aware of what thoughts you are projecting, does it still seem as troubling as originally perceived?
2. Feed their curiosity and continually ask questions…
“Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.” –Albert Einstein
Creative people do not subscribe to the old adage that curiosity killed the cat. Instead they will insist that without curiosity life cannot truly be experienced. It is this open-mindedness that is able to fully digest and appreciate its surroundings. At some point I think most everyone has been around a small child- you know the one that seems to only know one word, Why? Some people never quite grow out of this habit- rather they add additional questions, such as what, when, and how.
3. Retain a positive/optimistic outlook…
“Creativity is a natural extension of our enthusiasm.” –Earl Nightingale
Creative people have a knack for remaining optimistic in the face of adversity. While no one is immune to a bad day, they are able to recognize the possibilities and believe that somehow things will work out. They have an admirable enthusiasm that drives them and solutions are never illusive for long, as they don’t believe that any problem cannot be resolved. This is strongly tied to the aforementioned curiosity, a constant questioning opens up solutions that many would overlook by glossing over details.
4. Accept the fluidity of ideas…
“Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties.” –Gail Sheehy
Ideas constantly flood the brains of the creative. While some are more prominent than others, none are grasped too tightly, for the process of developing new ideas is frequently more gratifying than the ideas themselves. Not to mention, hanging on to any one idea too tightly can prevent additional follow-up ideas from presenting themselves and limiting possibilities.
Worry about fleeting thoughts? Keep a notebook and pen/pencil handy and jot down your ideas, you never know when they’re going to come in handy! Creative types are great at tracking their thoughts and furthering their brainstorming. Try not to get hung up on formatting either, get the thoughts down and branch out from there.
5. Cultivate the proper environment in which they are most creative…
“Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.” –Dee Hock
Creative people have mastered the ability to recognize the environment(s) most conducive to their creativity. Whether they flourish in loud places or must have calm and quiet serenity, they create it however they can (and flex those creation muscles once again in the process). If you are like me, your ideal environment fluctuates dependent on mood. Most days I prefer setting up shop somewhere with controlled background noise (i.e. music, television, etc.) and I need frequent small distractions to provide me with little interruptions that bring me back to my primary task somewhat refreshed. Under what conditions are you most productive?
While there are definitely more habits to the creative minds of the world, I find that these 5 sum up the strongest, most underlying tendencies. I also find it worthwhile to note, that being creative does not have to be applied in a purely “artistic” sense as Mr. Groening sums up below, but rather is applied to you doing what you do- and doing it to your fullest potential.
“Living creatively is really important to maintain throughout your life. And living creatively doesn’t mean only artistic creativity, although that’s part of it. It means being yourself, not just complying with the wishes of other people.” –Matt Groening