Photo by Amélie Mourichon on Unsplash
Develop your creativity following these 6 simple and practical tips.
Creativity is not a talent reserved for a select few; it is an inherent human ability waiting to be awakened.
As I argued in this post, creativity is a skill that can be learned and developed. We can improve it by practising it and carrying out some exercises.
An anecdote from Picasso’s life illustrates this well.
Picasso was eating in a restaurant in New York when a woman approached him. “I’m a big fan of yours,” she told him, “would you mind scribbling something on a napkin? I will be happy to pay whatever you feel it is worth.”
Picasso completed a quick sketch and said, “That will be $10,000.”
“$10,000?” the woman was aghast, “but how can that be? It took you thirty seconds!”
“No,” Picasso said. “It has taken me a lifetime to do that.”
Picasso was a creative genius, but it got to be one thanks to a lifetime of practice and hard work.
Below we will look at some simple tips to develop your creativity.
Creativity Tip #1: Make It Up and Have Fun
The first tip comes from Nick Rubin’s book The Creative Act: A Way of Being.
Rubin tells us that the first thing we can do to alleviate the pressure on ourselves is to lower the stakes. Stop thinking you will create the next Mona Lisa or Ulysses and realise you are starting something small. You are making something up, doing it as you go, with no inklings yet of its value.
“Creativity is just free to play with no rules”, Rubin tells us, “we are not playing to win; we are playing to play. And ultimately, playing is fun. Perfectionism gets in the way of fun.”
When creating something, enjoy the process. Have fun with it.
As Oscar Wilde said, “Some things are too important to be taken seriously”.
The creative act is one of them.
Creativity Tip #2: Use the Beginner’s Mind
This is another one from Rubin’s fantastic book.
He tells us the story of the first win of the AI AlphaGo against the Go grandmaster Lee Sedol in 2016. In the 37th move, AlphaGo made a move that nobody in the Go world would have ever done. They thought it was a mistake, but when the game was over, everybody agreed that this had been the decisive move.
The AI was more creative than its human counterpart because it didn’t have the baggage of millennia of received wisdom on what is a good move and what isn’t. It started from scratch by analysing all the possible options to achieve its outcome, so it wasn’t encumbered by any rules or norms.
When trying to be creative, look at things with a beginner’s mind, like no human has ever seen.
This reminds me of an episode from Sophie’s World, the fictional book that serves to introduce the reader to the fascinating world of philosophy. In it, the philosophy teacher explains to Sophie that a philosopher needs to look at the world like a toddler.
For a toddler or small child, everything is new. Everything is as surprising and unique. You could be floating two metres from the ground or standing up and walking; both acts are equally stunning to the child because they are new to them. As we get older, we take people walking (or not floating) for granted, and things stop marvelling at us.
With age, we lose the capacity to look at things through a child’s eyes.
Philosophers need to look at things through children’s eyes and be surprised by everything.
The creative mind needs to do the same, so look at everything as if it were the first time.
Creativity Tip #3: Embrace Curiosity
Curiosity is the foundation of creativity.
Like the philosopher-child in the previous tip, you must foster a sense of wonder about everything. Ask questions about the world around you. Explore new ideas and experiences. Approach familiar situations with fresh eyes and an open mind.
By nurturing your curiosity, you will make new connections and provide your mind with the necessary fuel to ignite the inspiration required to have new ideas and create new things.
Creativity Tip #4: Cultivate a Creative Environment
Have you ever considered that the way you organise your physical space can influence the flow of creative energy?
Your surroundings matter. Create a physical and mental space that encourages creativity. Surround yourself with objects, artwork, books, music and people that inspire you.
This is counterintuitive, but a cluttered and chaotic workspace can actually enhance creative thinking and spark new ideas. Or it may not, it really depends on the person.
So, experiment with different environments, try new things, and see what works best to get your creative juices flowing.
Creativity Tip #5: Welcome Failure
Fear of failure is one of creativity’s biggest enemies.
We all make mistakes and fail in many things we do before finding success; that’s part of life. Failure and errors are part and parcel of the creative process. Setbacks are a necessary part of our Personal Growth journey.
If you want your creativity to flourish, you cannot hinder yourself for fear of failing or making mistakes. Take risks and try new things. When you fail, welcome it as part of your learning experience.
Adopt a growth mindset, focusing on progress and improvement rather than perfection.
Creativity Tip #6: Practice Divergent Thinking
Divergent thinking, also known as lateral thinking, is a thought process used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions.
You cultivate your divergent thinking through brainstorming ideas, free writing, mind mapping, or other techniques that help you create new connections between previously unrelated ideas. When practising divergent thinking, you should avoid self-censoring yourself, and you should let your thoughts flow freely.
Work on your idea-generation muscle by practising it regularly.
In the beginning, you should focus on quantity. Throw ideas without thinking whether they are crazy or stupid. Then you can assess their value later on.
Try to think out of the box regularly. The more often you do it; the easier it will get with time.
Embrace your creativity
In a world obsessed with productivity, allowing yourself time to daydream can be a powerful catalyst for creativity.
Stop obsessing with work and delivering on deadlines, and leave more time for letting your imagination escape freely. Read fiction novels, paint, watch science fiction films, and write down your dreams to increase dream recall. Do more things to numb the rational part of your brain and awaken the creative and imaginative one.
Embrace these practical tips, ignite your creative fire, and watch as the world becomes your canvas for boundless imagination and innovation. Enjoy it!