What is Creativity? Plus: How I Trained Myself to Be More Creative
What does the word "CREATIVITY" make you think about?
The online dictionary defines creativity" as "the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work."
The word “creativity” often evokes visions or images of the artist at work, whether it be a painter splashing color on a canvas or a writer drafting the next great novel. These images do represent a certain kind of creativity, but they can also be limiting, as I have certainly learned over the last few months.
The truth is, creativity is a lot more than that. As author James Clear writes in his blog, “The creative process is the act of making new connections between old ideas or recognizing relationships between concepts.” Clear’s definition opens the process to everyone. Research shows there’s a gap between the value we place on creativity and how we’re flexing our creative muscles.
Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing.
What about those days days when you just don't feel the creative juices flowing?
"You're so creative!"
"How do you come up with so many amazing ideas?"
Do you ever get those?
I'm looking around me now, and yes, I am surrounded by some very beautiful pieces of art that I've created over time. There are also some sculptures and even a plate where I wrote some poetry to my granddaughter.
Then I have those days when I don't feel like I have a creative bone in my body. What do I do then? Do you have those days?
I have those days, too.
Here are some of the things that I do to get inspired and creative.
1. I Started Small to Cultivate Creative Habits.
Years ago when I decided to start a YouTube channel, didn’t think much about creativity. I knew that I as a creative person. It shouldn't be that difficult, right!?
I believe that I created 3 videos at the time and then let my channel sit for many years before I even thought about really getting serious about it. When I decided to get serious about my YouTube channel, I set a goal to create a video a week, and from there things began to take shape.
You can’t write a book in one sitting, but you can write a page at a time. When you try to tackle a gigantic task at once, you’re more likely to procrastinate because you’re scared to fail. When you narrow in on a single, palatable task, it becomes easier to push past the mental and emotional discomfort. Over time, small steps add up to produce dramatic results.
- Reading one page a night can add up to reading before bed each night.
- Taking out the yoga mat and just lying on it can lead up to doing thirty minutes of yoga.
- Tying your running shoes can eventually become running three miles.
You get the picture: Small habits!
Creativity is our ability to tap into our ‘inner’ pool of resources – knowledge, insight, information, inspiration and all the fragments populating our minds – that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world and to combine them in extraordinary new ways.” Maria Popova, Brainpickings
Candle Crafting Can Be So Relaxing!
2. I Applied Constraints.
When Random House founder Bennett Cerf bet one of his authors, Theo Geisel, that he couldn’t write a children’s book with just 50 different words, the man (better known as Dr. Seuss) won that wager with Green Eggs and Ham.
Putting limits to encourage creativity might sound counter-intuitive. But the thing is, constraints encourage more divergent thinking–and you can leverage built-in limits or apply them to the project at hand.
For example, when I create essential oil perfume blends, I sometimes limit myself to using just 3 essential oils and one carrier oil to see what amazing aromas I can make.
If I am working with something that is completely new to me, here is what I'll do.
- I gather new material, and I learn as much as I can about this new material.
- I thoroughly work over the materials in my mind. During this stage, I examine what I have learned by looking at the facts from different angles and experimenting with fitting various ideas together.
- I step away from the problem. Next, I put the problem completely out of my mind and go do something else that excites me and energizes me.
- I let the idea return to me. At some point, but only after I have stopped thinking about it, my idea will come to me with a flash of insight and renewed energy.
- I develop my idea.
3. I Stopped Rejecting Myself.
I used to always worry if people were going to like my work. People judge, I know that, so how do you get past this stage of creating and not worrying about what people are going to think about the work or whether they are going to like it?
“But what if I fail? What if people judge me? What if I make something that gets rejected?”
I hear you. I feel that way all the time. Hell, maybe this article will get rejected and people will hate it.
Creatives feel these same fears. They worry about rejection and battle uncertainty just like everyone else, but they don't let how they feel prevent them from sharing what they know.
But even more important to keep in mind is this: if you choose to create something, you've already won because you haven't rejected yourself.
I Decided to Take Up Photography to Expand My Creativity.
4. I remember that creativity is a process, not an event!
In 1666, one of the most influential scientists in history was strolling through a garden when he was struck with a flash of creative brilliance that would change the world.
While standing under the shade of an apple tree, Sir Isaac Newton saw an apple fall to the ground. “Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,” Newton wondered. “Why should it not go sideways, or upwards, but constantly to the earth’s center? Assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. There must be a drawing power in matter.” 
And thus, the concept of gravity was born.
The story of the falling apple has become one of the lasting and iconic examples of the creative moment. It is a symbol of the inspired genius that fills your brain during those “light bulb moments” when creative conditions are just right. 
What most people forget, however, is that Newton worked on his ideas about gravity for nearly twenty years until, in 1687, he published his groundbreaking book, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. The falling apple was merely the beginning of a train of thought that continued for decades.
Newton isn’t the only one to wrestle with a great idea for years. Creative thinking is a process for all of us.
My Neptune Chart Placement Inspired This Piece. I Bet You Were Thinking Aquaman!
5. I let myself daydream.
Almost everyone has had a flash of insight, a light bulb moment of inspiration, while showering, walking the dog, or washing the dishes. The mind wanders while you soak or scrub and, as studies show, your brain is more likely to generate creative solutions when it’s free.
In today’s productivity-obsessed culture, daydreaming sounds like blasphemy. But spending 10 minutes walking or gazing out the window is more likely to inspire innovation than scrolling through social media.
“Creation is your Source and your only real function.”
A Course in Miracles
6. I Sleep Longer to Enhance Creativity.
7. I Cut the Mindless Scrolling Through Social Media.
Social media seems to be a way of life. We all do it.
I’m talking about the laying on the couch, phones in our faces, mindlessly scrolling on social media for hours on end. We know it’s a bad habit, but yet we just can’t stop!
I have no problem with the periodic random scrolling through my social media pages. However, I have learned to balance how much of it I do.
Systemizing repetitive processes, steps, or tasks frees your time to tackle juicier problems. For example, you can automate everything from email responses to social media posts to grocery deliveries. Innovation needs time and space to grow. If you’re struggling to find room for creativity, find ways to cut the busywork.
1. Turn off the notifications.
2. Check your email at set times each day.
3. Clean up your Apps.
4. Keep your phone in your room.
Ideas Come From Different Sources.
8. I wasn’t afraid to look elsewhere for inspiration.
Analogies–including metaphors, similes, and even fairy tales–help our brains navigate new territory. For example, Steve Jobs was a master of metaphors who introduced now-basic analogies, including the computer “desktop,” “folders,” and “documents.”
For me, I looked to a class called Soul Shift for inspiration. I was feeling stuck in what I was doing and thinking and I did not know what or where to go next next. I was known as an artist. People saw my art work and recognized it, but yet I wanted and needed to grow as an artist. I had explored sculpture but stillI felt that there was more that I could do as a Creative.
Soul Shift was designed to accelerate spiritual transformation, activate personal potential, and improve energetic flow for total physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness. I have been going through this course for 6 months now, and have found that my creativity has been blown wide open.
I created products and generated ideas that I never thought I would have done had I not gone through that process of waking up to a heightened spirituality, hence a deeper sense of creativity.
I started to connect seemingly disconnected ideas and as a result, creativity sparked.
Lately when I hit a creative road block, I find a new hobby to pursue in order to give my creative thinking a new perspective. For me as an artist, that means playing with bellydancing, trying my hand at woodworking, video, and other forms of creative mediums that I wouldn’t consider myself to be a pro at.
For you, it might mean writing a short story, cooking a new recipe, or going to a new class on the weekends. Do something new to not only grow your creative background but to give a refreshing break to your usual practice.
Broadening my knowledge was one of the most successful creative strategies: to force myself to create seemingly disparate ideas from what I was used to doing.
9. I aimed high
Google has nine core principles of innovation. Number three declares that employees should “aim to be 10 times better.” Aiming high is the opposite of applying constraints—and it works different mental muscles. Think big, broad, and outlandish. What would it take to achieve a tenfold improvement?
“The key question isn’t ‘What fosters creativity?’ But it is why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything.” Abraham Maslow
10. I was deliberate about changing my routine
Change begets creativity. Even small shifts, like switching up your meals and daily travel routes can change how you think. Novelty prompts the mind to find new solutions. Changing our assumptions is another way to encourage creativity. When you’re struggling, ask yourself what you’re assuming, and why. You might be surprised to find the answers.
Try experimenting with foods you've never eaten.
11. I Travel and Spend Time in Nature.
When we sideline creativity in our lives, we sideline true happiness. When we cannot or do not create, we feel stifled.
12. I cultivated trust in my ability.
Have you ever felt more alive than when bringing something to life, in whatever form? Have you ever felt happier than when admiring one of your own creations—whether a child, a painting, or a gourmet meal? I sure as hell haven’t! Whatever your particular kind of fancy, it feels intrinsically damn good to give genesis to something.
More than any other factor, I believe trust expands creativity. You have to trust that you can innovate. You have to believe in your creative potential.
I Painted Intuitively.
I Started to Create My Own Spiritual Tools.
“What art does is to coax us away from the mechanical and towards the miraculous. The so-called uselessness of art is a clue to its transforming power. Art is not part of the machine. Art asks us to think differently, see differently, hear differently, and ultimately to act differently, which is why art has moral force … Art makes us better people because it asks for our full humanity." Jeanette Winterson
13. I tapped into my Spirituality.
Our left-brained society often downplays the power of creativity. In schools, the curriculum is often focused on math, science, reading and language skills. Yet none of these has the power to open to heart and connect us with our spiritual Guidance the way our creativity does.
I have always been an artist. As a child, drawing and crafts were a major way I soothed myself in a very stressful household. When I would lose myself in a creative project, I would feel the calmness that comes from being in oneness with my higher self. I didn’t know that that’s what it was. I didn’t know that what I was doing was opening to my spiritual Guidance — I just knew that it felt safe and soothing.
“It is our nasty twentieth-century materialism that makes us feel: what is the use of writing, painting, etc., unless one has an audience or gets cash for it? Socrates and the men of the Renaissance did so much because the rewards were intrinsic, i.e., the enlargement of the soul.” Brenda Ueland
14. I gave myself permission to create junk.
In any creative endeavor, you have to give yourself permission to create junk. There is no way around it. Sometimes you have to write 4 terrible pages just to discover that you wrote one good sentence in the second paragraph of the third page. Sometimes you have to create that one terrible painting, which I have found in some instances to be the stepping stone to the masterpiece that was hidden inside.
Ultimately, the chance to persevere through self-doubt and fear and procrastination is one of the greatest opportunities we have for self-discovery. It is through creating that we find out who we really are and what we are truly made of.
Live in the arena rather than judging from the crowd. It’s more exciting down there.
Let go of the illusion of control!
Contribute to the world around you. Create and share the brilliance that you have inside of you. Life is not meant to spent solely consuming the things that others have made.
Art offers an outlet and a release. Take a minute to ignore all of the incoming signals and create an outgoing one instead. Produce something. Express yourself in some way. As long as you contribute rather than consume, anything you do can be a work of art.
We all have the gift of creativity. When you let go of the illusion of control and open to learning, your unique gifts of creativity will flow through you. Creativity opens you to Spirit, and Spirit brings you the gift of creativity — a beautiful circle of joy!
Your Legacy is What You Share.
Your legacy is what you share, not what you know or harbor within yourself. Unshared knowledge is like potential energy. It’s great to have, but it will never do anything unless you turn it into something else.
Turn your knowledge into a book. Turn your inspiration into art. Turn your words into music. Turn your ideas into a business. Build something. Write something. Create something.
© 2019 Gina Welds Hulse