That Creativity Thing
Throughout my career as an artist, craftsman and teacher, I have given a great deal of thought to creativity, where it comes from, how to nurture it.
After all those years of thinking I have come to one certainty: Everyone is creative…Everyone!!!!!!!
Who we are, those stories that fill our brains, most often have a very tenuous connection to reality. Where the stories and judgments that hold us back come from is obvious: parents, siblings, friends, school, TV, radio, books, marketing…you name it. The sad fact is that during our learning process the message “you can’t” is too often conveyed, especially in the realm of creativity.
Watching very young children is proof positive that we are creative creatures. Looking at older children can also demonstrate how much our society can bury the beautiful and magical in our species.
Fortunately, the longing to create never dies in us. And, for it to flourish, all we have to do is give up the stories we have been told and just enter the creative process.
There are very few creative geniuses running around out there. The 99.9999% of the rest of us remaining have created virtually all that is good, artistic, beautiful and amazing about our world. So, it looks like you’re probably part of the creative crowd, but you just don’t know it yet.
So, what do we do to find that creative “you”? Well, we start by confronting the conscious mind where all the “I can’t” stories keep buzzing. Then, we access the other 90%, the unconscious, where the longing and ability to create have been hiding. It is a simple process to learn creativity. Just learn the rules, do the exercises, accept that it is hard work, feel the dissonance, and risk, risk, risk. Having a teacher that knows the path certainly helps. Yes, that’s what I do.
Our species is wired for creativity. Remember we’ve got the big brain with the huge prefrontal cortex. With this big brain we love to take the functional, the everyday items and make them symbolic, new, embellished, decorative…..sounds like creativity to me. If you remove the rare creative genius, the “bandwagon affect”, our propensity to idealize, and our stories about what creativity is, then we are left with a big creative playground for the rest of us to play in. I like that!
Most of those “lucky” people you may perceive as creative separate themselves from you with just two simple “secrets.” They are willing to work hard and have the courage to risk, knowing that failure is part of learning.
I used to attend a workshop every two months where approximately twenty-five new faces showed up each time. Sitting in a circle, each person introduced himself or herself. Then, the facilitator asked if anyone could name each person in the circle. A friend of mine, a regular attendee, did it every time. I thought it was magic. When I asked him his miraculous secret, he said. “hard work”.
The next meeting I focused, repeated, associated, and worked very hard as I sat silently. It was very uncomfortable. But, when the moment of truth came, I named them all. Now, I was a magician! HA HA HA!!!
Creativity works the same way. If you have the desire, the fire, and the willingness to work and be realistic, you, too, can be a creative person.
Now, you have no more excuses. Let’s create some dynamite shoes.
Many writers have written about the creative process. Those that have touched me the most are:
- Vincent Ryan Ruggiero, The Art of Thinking, A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, The Art of Seeing: An Interpretation of the Aesthetic Encounter
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention
- W.A. Mathieu reads (2 CD set): The Listening Book, Discovering Your Own Music, and The Musical Life, Reflections on What It Is. Available though www.ManifestSpirit.com.
This CD set appears to be about creating music. Just substitute seeing, feeling, and touching words for the sound words on the CD to take a wondrous journey through creativity.
- Michael J. Gelb, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day
- Madeline Bruser, The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart
Again, music is the format, creativity is the message.
- Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way