If there’s one thing that attending university has taught me, it’s that the world is painfully uncreative. The majority of people I know think linearly. They have no idea how to create something new and exciting. Straying from what they were taught feels uncomfortable and is rarely done. The problem is intelligence doesn’t demand creativity, because we can have the capacity to remember everything someone tells us and regurgitate it. Unfortunately, innovation requires both. That is why so few people have so much of our wealth, because they know how to influence their thought into creating something useful and different.
I have created a few tips that work for me, on how to expand your creativity or find it if it is not already there:
1- Take Time to Observe.
Observation is one of the strongest ways to spark your creativity. Most of us go day to day, blocking out the world around us by focusing on where we are going, what we have to do, and how little time is left. In reality, we just need to slow down. Stop for a minute. When you take a walk to work or school think of nothing but what is around you in that moment. Let your destination be a passive thought. Engage your senses in your walk, how does it feel? How do you feel? What can you hear, smell, see? All of these practices will allow you to become more in tune with your thought process, as well as the world around you.
2- Bad Ideas are Like Kindling.
I can’t count the number of times someone thought my idea was terrible, or impossible, or just plain abnormal. Because of this, I cant count the number of times I’ve abandoned a thought in fear of its failed outcome. This has to be one of my biggest regrets. I have learned now that every idea spawns a better one. Even the ideas that fail give you a lesson to learn by, or material to improve upon. If we do not accept that we may fail, we can never succeed. If we do not risk failure, we will never know the raw potential of our ideas.
Creativity comes from those who do not abandon seemingly ‘bad’ ideas, but expand them into useable fragments of something good. For every 1000 bad ideas, there may be one with potential, but the other thousand are the missing pieces to making our one idea a success. The option of expanding ideas we view as ‘bad’ allows us to mirror life in our art, for nothing we do is ever predictable. So we must think in the same way we live: not predicting the outcome, but giving it our all to succeed.
3- Be Uncomfortable.
This is the single hardest thing for people to do, yet the most rewarding. Everyone always tells you to live life to your fullest, yet we all live in a secluded box. Even those who are constantly social and living the high life are generally creatures of habit. Especially the (kill me for saying this) “YOLO” ‘ers. In fact, they are the worst.
To become more creative, we need to challenge ourselves to experience new things. To place ourselves in situations that make us feel like we shouldn’t be there, and tough it out. This lets us experience not only our inner workings, but broaden the way we observe the world. Immersing ourselves in different culture, events, locations, people, or even just critiquing the taste of a beer that we have never heard of. Experiencing (*and observing*) new things are what allows our thoughts to cascade into innovative ideas, without it we will just reword our previous thoughts and convince ourselves they are unique.
4- Make it Personal.
Ever had a moment that burns in your memory, no matter how hard you try to forget it? Or maybe think of the happiest moment you can remember, the one that you turn to for a smile? These experiences in life are key to our creative thought. We look for ways to forget the bad and embrace the good, but there is an equilibrium that we must keep in order to think innovatively.
When you work, base some of your ideas off of these experiences: How did you feel? How would you change it? How would you recreate it? Walk through these moments in your mind to reach that innovation associated with important memories. Find a moment that means a great deal to you and base your creation from the experiences and feelings it invokes. These moments are gifts for an artist, if you can properly channel them.
5- Get Emotional.
The final, most important piece of advice I have is to get emotional when you work. Did you ever need to rant about somthing because it made you angry? or cry, or laugh, or scream? Emotion ties into everything we do. No great feat was every completed without emotion, no love story without the authors own passion. Try to change the way you respond to intense emotion, and channel that energy in your art. Paint while you are angry, write when you are lonely, compose a masterpiece when you realize that breathing another day is profound.
Creativity can come from many places, but the greatest is when you realize that the world is unfathomably complex, and you find a place within yourself that mirrors that complexity and awe.
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