Fostering Your Creativity

Inventing Imagination

How does one learn creativity?

Somehow, a lot of us grew up with the assumption that we only had to know the facts and logistical side to anything we did. After the age of ten, people stopped encouraging them as silly hobbies and tried to get us to memorize everything about our craft, including how to make it into a career. They wanted us to get better at what we did and be the best. If we weren’t the best, then everything seemed wrong. In this cycle, a lot of people lose their passion for the arts and would rather settle into an average life of working, not enjoying their job to the fullest. 

If we are supposed to make it in this society, we have to be better than anyone else, right? We have to be the best in our particular niche, right? We should always think outside of the box in order to generate ideas no one else has in order to avoid cliché ideas, right?

All of these ideas are half wrong. About as wrong as Wesley was dead in The Princess Bride. Only mostly wrong. Not all wrong, which means still partially right. We DO have to start thinking about how to make it in the world, because it takes a lot of work. However, making work or money the main focus can suck the life out of what we love. At such a point, it is only a matter of time before the idea of ‘making it’ becomes too daunting and it looks easier to settle for a plain old, nine-to-five job which will pay just enough to get through life comfortably.

Some people get those jobs, don’t mind it, but eventually want to build it into something more.

What if we could even take those boring jobs to the next level with a little innovation?

THE BOX

Ah, yes. “The box.” The dreaded thing that kept me from doing anything as a child. It stumped me through most of my teen years, too. I never understood how to think outside the box. One of my greatest weaknesses as an artist. There is a remedy, and here it is:   

A good friend of mine always told me, “We shouldn’t always have to think outside the box, but we should also learn to use the box.” Sometimes thinking outside the box can lead to great ideas, but it can prove to be a problem in some cases. Mostly when it stumps people attempting to start or finish a project.

It is really easy to get stuck in the train of thought saying, “This has already been done before, why bother?” I can think of a few authors who have talked on this same subject of fostering creativity before. (Check out Steven Pressfield, Edward De Bono, or Paul Arden.) I’m sure they did a better job at explaining, seeing as they wrote entire novels on the subject and here I am writing a measly blog post. But tell me, do you think these authors have the exact same ideas as me? The same thoughts or wording running through their heads which eventually made it to paper? No. 

Getting out of my head is the hardest part. I don’t think well. My method for thinking outside of the box involves sitting at my computer, opening a Word Document, and writing the first thought to cross my mind. They usually start out pretty silly, but with enough random thoughts comes a valuable new story.

The world has been around for a long time. A lot of people have lived in the world. Sometimes it takes a long time to build up the skill to think of brand new, completely unique ideas, and some people may never build the skill. (I don’t know if I ever will do it well, to be honest.) What is ‘new’ is the way people convey these different messages. Some people learn better when they have a detailed explanation through a novel, while others prefer the K.I.S.S method. “Keep it simple, stupid.” Therein lies the reason I am writing this.

Creativity is not only generating ideas never done before, but it can be using old trends to bring new life to them.

“ALL YOU GOTTA DO, IS DO IT.” ~My Godfather

Does anyone else look at these people who go viral on TikTok and think, “Man, I could do that, too. Why did they get famous for it?” The answer is pretty simple: they did it, I didn’t. 

It took me almost a month to sit down and finish this post. Ironically, I didn’t finish it because I wanted to say something no one else had heard before. The reality of it is, what I have to say is different from what other people have to say. What an artist or business mogul has to say is going to be different from any other. Sure, there are exceptions when it comes to hard facts, but I’m not trying to emphasize that side of this topic.

Finishing this post meant work. Work sucks sometimes. I disagree with Mark Twain on his famous quote, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” because changing my mindset from “I have to…” to “I get to…” takes work. 

To get anywhere in life takes work.

To go that extra mile, though, it takes a lot of work.

Half of creative thinking means just sitting down and writing some crazy ideas out on a page. As a writer, I have three half-filled journals and (yes, I just counted) six pages of notes in my phone with random, possibly bad ideas for stories, marketing, or plot points for my novel. For every ten bad ideas I have, there is one gem. Before I can get to that gem, however, I have to shuffle through the bad ideas.

To be creative, one has to escape the “it’s been done before” mentality and, put simply: TRY.

After the age of ten, people start pushing us to learn all we can about the things we say we love, or they will tell us we can never make it. The game changer is which of us have the willingness to work, or let that fire burn out. 

DON’T LET THE FIRE GO OUT

It’s okay to take time away from the business side of life to focus on the things you enjoy.

I forget this sometimes. I keep trying to make sure I post at least once a month. (See how that’s working? Not well…) Then every so often, I try to kickstart an Instagram page because I love encouraging other writers and artists, but it is time consuming and hard. Keeping up with these and working two jobs is hard. Doing this adulting thing is hard.

Last month, I took a week off of just about everything and went to my cabin with my friend. We spent the whole week writing as much as we could as fast as we could. It was daunting, wonderful, painful, and healing all at the same time. Ultimately, it showed me I can do more than I think I am capable of if I sit down and try. It also reminded me how much I love just sitting and writing silly stories no one will ever see because they are so bad. 

Trying to be creative is difficult, and it’s a lot harder to do under pressure. Start small. Or start by thinking of the most outrageous idea possible and dial it down from there. Try different methods. Do whatever feels right.

Creativity thrives when the creator is thriving.

So what I am really trying to say here, in case you are looking for a quick synopsis on this:

  1. Turn old ideas into new ideas. Use the box.
  2. To quote my best friend’s dad, “All you have to do, is do it.”
  3. If nothing else, remember this: Creativity thrives when the creator is thriving.

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