09 February 2012

Pushing Creativity

What comes to mind when you see the word creativity? Great thinkers?  Artists?  Musicians?  Leonardo da Vinci?  Einstein?

Certainly not me you might be thinking.

Yet we are all creative.  We have ideas.  We come up with new ways of doing things.  What we need to do is believe in ourselves more, and we can do that by finding out what works for us.  What pushes our creativity?

A long time ago I realised that many of my ideas came when I was out walking, and so now if I'm stuck on something, rather than sitting in front of the laptop getting more frustrated (and feeding those beliefs of not being creative), I put on my shoes and go out for a walk.

A walk with a purpose.

I think about the problem I'm trying to solve.  This might be a work problem, such as how can I best assess this learning material?  Or it might be a plot problem.  How is Tom going to find out about the safety deposit box? 

I push and prod consciously thinking of ways to solve the problem. By doing this I'm telling my brain this is important.

Sometimes the ideas/answers come quickly, and on other occasions it takes longer, but the ideas do come.

Walking is also exercise and our cognition improves from 30 minutes of exercise, and this boost lasts for up to 2 hours after the exercise.

This brings me to something else I discovered in pushing creativity. A change of scenery, or doing something different works wonders. Sitting at the computer when I'm stuck is the worst thing to do. Even if the change of scenery is getting up and doing another job, or making myself a drink. The idea comes once I'm away from the computer.

To sum up what I'm doing is:

  • Giving my brain a nudge and saying this is important to me.
  • Training myself to be more observant: not just of what's around me, but of what is going on in my head.  People often say they're not creative, but I think the reality is more that we aren't aware of the idea, because we're not looking for it.
  • Write down the ideas.  This is a confirmation to the brain that what we're doing is important.

The benefit of getting into this zone of asking questions, really looking and listening for the answers, and writing down the ideas, is that the ideas appear more often and more easily.  When I'm really in the zone the ideas come without me working at it.  The plot points appear and link with things I've already written as if I had planned it that way.  Magic!  But magic we make.


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