As we enter week two of our university unit on Creativity and Innovation, we are being asked to be introspective about the possible limits one places on themselves when it comes to being creative. What stops me may be the same for you, or totally different. Whatever it is that stifles creativity, it is a topic well worth exploring. Without creative thought, the world would be a much poorer place. Why, only today the invention of the bicycle is being hailed 200 years later. This was in response to a problem when drought conditions caused lack of feed for stock including horses and the need for transport. Today’s cycling paraphernalia is a far cry from its humble beginnings when pedals were not included in the original design.
How does this relate to me being creative or not? Coming up with ideas can be the easy part; however converting them into actuality is another story. Allowing one to be creative is to be applauded but it will disappear into the ether if not harnessed. Creativity has to break through the internal and external factors that place barriers in our way. We need to look at what is self-imposed that we can deal with directly and those outside our control may need more work but can be overcome if we “think outside the box”. Already today, I have fallen prey to procrastination. There is church in the morning followed by coffee, then my daily one-hour walk (which does set my creative juices gurgling!), a chat to the young neighbour who has been sick with her three children for the past week, catching up on washing and preparing dinner. I’m just about to go off and check the oven now! Five minutes later I’m back with a drink in hand. I think you get my point, many of us are guilty of being distracted from our creative pursuits.
We can argue that creativity needs to have free rein but that is probably just an excuse for not making space in our lives and our environment for this important process to fulfil its potential. Many successful writers are often quoted saying that you must write something each day, whether that be a 1000 word limit or a chapter each week. Those of us who worked as print journalists understood that a deadline was exactly what it meant. Not much point writing a beautifully crafted story if it never makes it into print!
I often think it sad that the work of many talented artists is worth more after their death. While money shouldn’t always be the motivation to create, the recognition of one’s volume of work within their lifetime would be a sign of respect.
I was surprised but John Cleese of Fawlty Towers and Monty Python fame, had some useful insights via a training on-line clip in relation to creating an environment to foster creativity. Sometimes we need to remove ourselves from places that inhibit our creativity or ability to problem solve. He was an advocate of “sleeping on a problem” overnight when a solution was not forthcoming. I also agree with this approach. Brain fatigue dulls the senses and the next day can provide fresh perspectives.
As this day draws to a close, I too will sleep on it and hope that my creative senses will be revived. If all else fails, keep a note pad handy by the side of the bed when you feel inspired so not to lose the essence of your thoughts.