I should start with this: I don’t really think I am a “creative.” I’ve heard that term with increasing frequency over the last year or so, and haven’t quite nailed down what it means to be a creative. It seems to be a nebulous term, encompassing several different ideas. The way I understand it seems to be a hybrid of innovation, originality and commitment. There do not seem to be too many people who fit that definition.
However, I don’t think a person needs to be “a creative” in order to be creative. Creativity is wired into us. We are the product of creativity and live in a world teeming with creativity. I believe we all have the capacity for creativity. The trick is figuring out how to tap into it. I haven’t figured it out, but here are a few “principles” of creativity that I have found work pretty well for me:
Creativity Is Intentional:
One thing I have learned to do when I need to be creative is to be intentional about it. While some of my ideas are spontaneous, the vast majority are not. I have to carve out time in order to be creative. This seemed counter-intuitive to me at first, but it has been really helpful. Because I have to work at it, I need to be intentional about it. This means I make time and also put myself in an environment with as few distractions as possible. I have found that the more distracted I am, the less creative (and productive) I am. I’m actually writing this from a booth in a pizza hut with no internet access because it drastically reduces distractions!
Creativity Does Not Happen In a Vacuum:
I have found that I am not very creative on my own. I’m a big fan of group thinking and brainstorming. I thrive off of ideas and and thoughts that I’ve absorbed from around me. A lot of my best stuff has been an adaptation of something I’ve seen somewhere else. It’s not that I steal that idea, but rather it sparks something in me that makes me go in a new direction. Because I work this way, I do my best to surround myself with ideas and people who are willing to share ideas.
Creativity Requires Ideas:
This might sound overly obvious to some, but I’m ok with that. I’m not a spontaneous creative for the most part. I’m a brainstormer. I’ll sit down with a pen and paper or (my preferred method) a whiteboard and markers, and write down as many ideas as I can come up with. It’s pretty much anything I can think of. Even if I think it’s a bad idea I’ll go ahead and write it down, because my first impression is often wrong.
I generally choose a “category” for my ideas. if I’m writing lessons for youth group I try to focus on that. I use this with lesson topics, blog posts, programming, planning, and pretty much anything else. It just works for me.
Creativity Needs Refinement:
Not all of my ideas are great, or even good. If I’ve come up with twenty different ideas, I might only use 2-5 of them because those are the only ones that really spark my interest. I’ll also spend some time pulling out themes that I find in the ideas.
Creativity Requires Commitment:
Creative ideas are just a start. They don’t do any good if you don’t do anything with them. My brain and computer are full of ideas that are great, but useless because they aren’t doing anything. Creatives are creatives because of what they have done or are pursuing with commitment. Not because they had a cool idea that never came to be.
So there you have it. That’s pretty much what I do when I try to make myself a creative!