When faced against a single task, no matter the complexity or redundancy of it, we are somehow programmed to respond promptly. As if entering into that state of mind which dictates productivity is as easy as a joke. Can you relate?
I mean, presuming of course that this “task” of ours requires rudimentary skills or even something slightly more complex, but out of the scope of creativity.
Creativity, on the other hand, or any creative job for that matter, requires a different tune to be whistled.
Now here lays the interesting phenomenon – creative output is not only labeled differently from productive output, but perceived entirely different as well.
Can we be creative day after day?
The answer being in the negative, suggests that we have only a limited capacity for being creative. It says that we are restrained by pressure of an idea escaping, hence playing it safe, and pray for having the type of smarts that keep us up at night in hope for one to come up.
We are, in fact, creative at a number of levels – the way we handle even the simplest of daily routines, the way we interact with one another. It’s all creativity. Maybe not by definition, but still…
What freaks me out though is the fact that whenever creativity is asked from me as in order to come up with it, there is this partial block. Time restriction and deadlines are usually the trigger for this anxiety and creative suffocation, but on a wider scope I recognize a different, more sociological factor.
We are used to consume creativity, maybe even recognize it and give it some credit here and there, but not to be the medium responsible for it to happen and flow freely.
My point being – we are accustomed to consumerism, digesting everything around us, but never in the habit (probably need would be more appropriate here) to actually produce something.
It has never been required from us (Ok, maybe with the exception of fifth grade, when you did that small house using carton boxes, or participated in the Hamlet arranged by the “new-ambitious-and-still-enthusiastic” teacher). You see where I’m heading?
Learn to be creative within a frame
The idea of an open canvas is almost synonymous with creativity. But let me fight the case against it.
Having a frame gives your mind a much necessary focus, and establishes some ground rules within you can be creative. Here is a thought experiment for you:
Imagine being tasked with writing a novel. You don’t know what type of novel it is, and you don’t know anything about it. Now imagine the same task, only this time you know that the novel is supposed to be about a crime mystery, it should be 120 pages long, and should take a place on a train.
Much easier, right?
See, when you have a frame within which you are allowed to be creative, the task seems rather doable.
When I struggled to write about fitness few years back, I used this exact same method. Instead of writing on broad and complex topics, I decided to create workout reviews. Within the same format, words were flowing much faster, and I gradually started to explore other aspects of fitness. By the time I’ve published our Beachbody review I had enough knowledge to start expanding into other areas of fitness, and write about more specific topics.
After that, I focused on specific workouts, diets, and exercise equipment. One format at a time.
Consumerism defines us, but what if…?
Think about it for a second; even with putting products and services aside, we are still bound to consume. How come? Well, every form of creativity that we encounter is directed towards us – we watch the movies, we listen to the music, we go to the shows, we read the books, the newspapers…
This cripples us in a way that we are never allowing our creativity to emerge. And the “I-am-not-the-creative-person” type of excuse is lame at best. We all are. Sure, we are different in that respect, and Amen I respect that, but we all are.
I’m not saying that you should start the new Broadway down the street in your neighborhood, or reinvent the wheel for that matter; What I’m suggesting is having the habit (was so close to saying balls now) of doing something creative from time to time and let others enjoy it.
Even without that final variation to the equation, let you, yourself, enjoy your creative output.
Reading your stuff sounds egocentric? Well in that case I need an 18 wheeler to carry my ego. And suggest some apartment renting too while at it, since judging according to that it needs a separate place even.
My point being, get accustomed to spill your creative output out there once in a while. It usually ignites the process, smiting it on the butt as for it to accelerate.
And not every creative spark will resemble a beauty wearing haute couture gown, but it gets there. Soon enough; by implementing the habit, having the balls (there, I said it). It gets there.
Creating is the key to creativity
Sparing you from neuropsychology and explaining how the habit of being creative creates this neural wiring, thus making you more prone towards extrapolating creative solutions, I will just make some analogies.
Imagine being served the finest food day after day till you turn 40 something. Then, imagine a somewhat more realistic scenario, of you having that experience, now having to cook for yourself and your kids. Can you prepare anything similar to that food you once consumed? Can you prepare any food at all for that matter?
You see where I’m going with this?
No matter the quality of the literature you read, you can never write if you don’t start writing.
No matter how hilarious the joke you heard on that one night stand up with Louis CK was, you cannot be funny unless you utter some words now and then. (Unless you are Chaplin or know how to tap dance)
No matter how wonderful that interpretation of Brahms, that Itzhak Perlman played, was, you cannot perform even the first line if you don’t actually take a violin in your hand and practice for years.
Yes years. Some creative mediums require quite more time and dedication, but bottom line is that with all creative outlets time and the habit of practice is both all you need, and all you have.
Now how to recognize if you are one of those consuming driven type of people?
Think when was the last time you did something and spilled it all out there; on the line, for everybody to either enjoy or criticize.
Or better yet, start thinking about how often do you come to criticize other people’s work, and whether or not you improve what they did against the basis of your critique. Are you doing something, or are you bashing other people’s work hiding behind “if I was to write/play/sing that, it would have been AMAZING“.
What are you waiting for? Stop consuming and start creating.
Image credit: By Cavan Images