Creativity is a skill. The more you practice, the better you get.
You’re Creative and I Can Prove It!
I know that you’re creative and I know it for certain. You’re human and humans are an inherently creative bunch because we solve problems! That’s all creativity is—solving problems and you go through your whole day solving one problem after another:
You got dressed thus solving the problem of what to wear
You had something to eat thus solving the problem of being hungry
You found a bug in the sink and ran it down the disposal thus solving that problem
What else have you solved just today?
The creative process is NOT some magic mist that settles on a chosen few. It’s a clear and understandable problem solving process that we all use regularly. Once you recognize it at work in your life and learn to use it, you’ve found the creative spring.
Maybe you’ve tried this before…taking classes, forcing yourself to “do” creativity…
Ugh—That really doesn’t work!
What does work: everyday micro acts of creativity which lead to more joy and creative path opening as you gain creative strength.
You know I love that glitter. I also love people being creative everyday. See how I put those together?
I had the chance to talk about the creative process with my friend and colleague Nicole Fende on her podcast – The Sci-Fi Biz Show – All the Boring Bits Made Better.
First, a little about her show. It really is Sci-Fi for small business and she’s done it brilliantly. Nicole is a numbers person with a profit-making mindset – and she’s immensely creative with a flair for fun. We’ve collaborated for years on various projects and I’m honored to be a guest on her podcast.
We talked about the Creative Process, how it works, and how it underlies every creative act – even the everyday creativity that we may not notice anymore. In listening to the episode I was struck with how much fun we’re having.
Our talk ranged over creative laziness in popular offerings, the brain on creativity, the importance of curiosity, tips to be more creative, the creative process steps and slime. It’s a very digestible 36 minutes long.
BONUS FUN THING
Every episode starts with a short discussion of a Sci-Fi/fantasy/horror work of the guest’s choice. I chose “The Princess Bride” because it’s fun, positive and THE QUOTES!
You can catch the show on iTunes, your favorite podcast source (I use Stitcher) or download it here.
The creative process is one of the most misunderstood, overlooked, and underappreciated processes on the planet. Monette Satterfield joins us to discuss this deceptively simple approach. She shares insights on overcoming potential roadblocks, puts the time frame in perspective, and demonstrates how we can use it in business to grow our profit. All with references to the Most Quotable Movie.
A process for creativity – smart or sacrilege? Listen in and decide for yourself.
Are you curious? If you’re like most deeply creative people, your curiosity, about everything, knows no bounds – even though you might keep your relentless questions quiet from time to time to not annoy your friends.
Curiosity is the gateway to creativity. Asking questions is the natural way to move forward. After all, the creative process itself is often sparked with the question “What if?”
Harness Your Curiosity
Curiosity is a great start but to really make creative gains, you’ll want to direct and amplify that force. Here are 3 essential practices to develop your creative curiosity.
Keep a Journal
Yes, we’ve all heard this time and again, but it really is the beginning of a meaningful creative practice. It doesn’t matter if your notebook is plain or fancy, lined or unlined or bound or loose pages – it only matters that you carry it with you and use it regularly. Don’t worry about being “writerly” or “artistic” either. Use it for everything that strikes your fancy.
Mine are usually smaller notebooks that I can carry with me that I use to make notes, sketches, lists (sometimes it’s just my shopping list) and even attach clippings and other scraps that interest me. The pages are a mash-up of my daily life and aren’t very often beautiful, but they’re mine. This is the one I’m working in right now:
Of course, asking questions is the realm of the curious but how often and how deeply do you really question what you encounter everyday?
Start a new page in your notebook for something in your daily life – say your commute to work or a project you’re working on – and ask the basic questions: Who is involved? What happens? When does it happen? Where does it happen? How does it happen? and Why does it happen?
Don’t be overly concerned with the answers as you write and try for multiple answers even if they seem silly. Make sketches or lists or margin notes if you like, the point is to become more familiar with questioning. Bonus points for finding answers that move you forward!
Try New Things
Do you have a daily routine? Most of us do and some parts are useful and necessary like brushing your teeth every day. But, other parts are ripe for change. Trying new things doesn’t have to mean big, bold life altering changes.
Start small: vary the route you take on a routine errand or to work, try a new brand of food, personal items or art supplies on your next shopping trip, listen to a different station for unfamiliar music, etc. Make a point to change something regularly and see how it affects your creativity.
Creativity is in the Questions
While curiosity drives creativity, it can be hard to hold on to that questioning spirit when the world around us wants to get to the right answer without enjoying the creative questioning that takes time to unfold a truly new answer. What ways do you keep asking your creative questions? Let me know – I’d love to hear!
*This notebook is covered in the Shiny Designs Signature Print and has both lines and space for drawings. That’s hard to find, so I made this one! Grab yours from Amazon here!
Warmups are a way to deepen and develop your creative practice.
Do you warm up as part of your creative practice?
Yes, I mean a physical, doing something kind of warmup. Just like you’d do before your workout or sport. I’ve found that spending a few minutes with a warm up activity helps me ease into the more complicated project I’m working on. So, what does a creative warmup look like?
No, Cleaning Up Is Not a Warm Up
Some people clean the studio space or work area before starting but that’s a preparatory activity, not an actual warmup. That’s because creative warmups have specific characteristics.
Directly related– If you’re getting in the mindset to draw, perhaps you want to doodle some little figures and shapes, painting may call for swashing paint around practice papers (I use these in collage projects and the really pretty ones go into my Artist Ephemera Kits) and writing might need a page or two of hand-written free-form journaling. The important thing is that the warmup contain aspects of the creative activity you’re getting ready to start.
Easy and low expectation – A good warmup is easy enough for you to do that you don’t have to think much to execute it and you don’t worry about the outcome or finished result. Before I work on dimensional pieces like mixed media dolls, I like to make tissue paper flowers because they’re easy for me (once I learned how) and I don’t really care how they turn out. Some of them have been pretty but some have been sadly misshapen – either way, I don’t care, so it’s a good warmup.
Fast and simple – Warming up should only take a few minutes with minimal planning and supplies. Keep a warmup kit handy with your favorite materials so you can get started fast. The idea is to get started quickly and involve your hands and mind in a project related activity with a minimum of fuss.
While warming up and project work are both creative acts, larger projects are deeper and more thoughtful. But, sometimes all you have time for in a day is a warmup activity. That’s OK – everyday creativity, no matter how small, is what keeps you moving forward in your creative practice. Just keep making stuff!
Do you have a favorite warmup or is this a new idea for you? I’d love to know!
To create is to work. That’s why art and other creative output is referred to as “artwork” and a “body of work.”
That doesn’t mean the work is drudgery; it can be joyous. But, the nature of creative exploration has to encompass trials, missteps and outright failures or it won’t lead anywhere worth going.
As you expand your creative practice and output, you learn about your chosen craft and how to work within its constraints while bending them to your own vision. This intersection of practical knowledge and experience is where inspiration lives.
The difficulty is persevering on the path to get to that intersection because you don’t get there overnight. It takes time – maybe a few days or a few years, depending on complexity – and the road on the way is sometimes frustrating.
Learning to find reward in the creative process itself is how to remake the work of creating into joy.
How do you find joy in creating even when it doesn’t go as well as you’d like?