How To Be More Creative
Welcome to this month’s issue of “The Creativity Times” – the online, not-for-print, ezine that explores the nature of creativity and gives you tips to improve your own creative abilities. This month we’re featuring an interview with some of the top creative minds in the world. Our ace reporter Art Viceity traveled far and wide, to gain access to some of the most elusive and creative minds in history. Yes, I said history. Art Viceity was also able to travel back in time and meet with the likes of Picasso, Dali and the grand daddy of creativity himself – Leonardo Di Vinci. How is this possible you ask? A little imagination, research and, ahem, creativity, went a long way in producing this piece.
Art: What does it mean to be creative?
D. Webster: I’ll take that one, Art – I define creativity this way: kr ē-ā-‘tiv-ət-ē n: Ability to create. To bring into existence or to bring about by a course of action.
Leonardo D.: To me, creativity is the essence of my being and is the result of inspiration combined with scientific study. One must use both halves of our brains in the creative process. It is one thing to see the ordinary and another to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. I happen to paint, sculpt, practice architecture as well engage in a number of creative endeavors. Others write, make music, generate ideas create pottery. Creativity takes many forms and the expression of creativity is a personal choice. Everyone should chose what interest them.
P. Picasso: I agree Leonardo. I love to paint, but anyone can be creative using any medium. Creativity is the ability to come up with something new, or a twist on something that already exists. It’s a broad term that applies to many different situations.
Ancient Zen Master: “Ah yes – to create, is to create”
Art: (confused look on face) What the…? Ok, lets move on to our next question. Do you think anyone can be creative?
Brenda Ueland: Why yes – anyone can be creative. You first have to believe in yourself and be willing to give it a try. Everyone is talented, original and has something to say. The key, is to diligently practice your craft and have an open mind about your work.
S. Dali: But of course, anyone can be creative. We all have the ability to be creative and with a little work, can develop and improve our talents.
Ancient Zen Master: “Ah – you are what you can be”
Art: What techniques do you use to generate ideas?
Leonardo D.: Well, I happen to like to keep a notebook. In fact I have over 1,500 pages of notes on subjects ranging from anatomy to devices of warfare. A notebook is a great way for me to generate and refine my ideas. I usually find a quiet place to work, pick a topic and start the process. After a while, I become so engrossed in my work that time passes very quickly. Maybe I get in a state of flow?
I also ask a lot of questions. Asking questions is a great way to probe into a subject and really get your mind working. My favorite question is why? You ask why, then ask it two more times. After the 3rd time, you have your real answer.
P. Picasso: yes, I too love to keep a notebook. My favorite is a Moleskin. I also like to pick a theme and write thoughts throughout the day – kind of a stream-of-consciousness exercise. I tend to produce a lot material and have to sift through it to find anything good. I make no judgments on the content until the next day, when I go sifting for gold in my notes.
Brenda Ueland: Think positive and refine your work. I usually start by telling myself that I am creative and try to get into the right frame of mind. I believe it’s very important for a person to believe in one’s self in order to open the door to creativity. Whenever I write, I do not worry about getting ‘it right the first time’ – that rarely happens. The creative process for me is like looking through a telescope that is out of focus. I have a starting idea that I continue to work and refine until I have a finished product. As I work on piece, it gradually comes into focus – this happens by applying many edits and trying different ways to present my topic. Only when I’m happy with my work, will I release it for publication.
S. Dali: Sometimes I use my subconscious to help me generate ideas. There are two techniques that I typically use depending on nature of my problem. First, I usually get away from my problem and/or idea for a while. Sometimes I think so hard and long on a problem that I start to lose focus. A nice stroll through town usually clears my mind enough for me to complete my idea or solve my problem. Sometimes taking a shower helps. The other technique I use is sleep. Or more importantly, use the initial stages of sleep to help my creative process. This is a technique some of the best creative minds use to generate ideas – you can read an article I wrote about it here . It basically works like this – set an alarm for 15 – 30 minutes and start to think about your problem or idea. As you drift off into the initial stages of sleep – you’ll enter a state of consciousness where your subconscious can actually help you be more creative. After a few minutes, your alarm goes off and you can write down those ideas that were generated in your “altered state”.
Ancient Zen Master: Ah – look at the world with a beginners mind and you will see things that you have not seen before. What this really means is to observe and perceive the world without preconceptions and expectations. View things with child-like wonder. That’s what’s great about children – they look at everything with amazement and continually ask ‘what is this?’, ‘what does this mean?’ and ‘Why?’ ,
Art: Well that’s all the time we have for today folks – is there anyone would like the last word?
Ancient Zen Master: Why yes, Art – Thank you for the last word here. My advice to the novice is this:
Pick your medium. For me it’s writing. For you, it may be basket weaving or creating art from rusty metal. It doesn’t matter – what’s important is your passion for the medium. As you practice your craft, you will improve your skill over time. As you practice your craft, you will improve. Be open to constructive criticism and continue to learn. Being a life long learner is one of the best things you can be. I heard a quote somewhere that went like this. A news reporter was interviewing a lady who was 100 years old and he asked “..do you have any regrets”. And she said yes. “I wish I would have learned to play the violin when I was 60. Because I would have been playing for 40 years”. Wow. That is a powerful statement (by the way – if anyone knows the source please post a comment). All too often we think the ripe old age of 60 is time for retirement. Well it may be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to learn new things and continue to grow and be creative.