I used to think I was neither creative nor artistic. In high school, I avoided art classes because I thought I wasn't 'good' enough, which is both regretful and ridiculously ironic.
It wasn't until I was a little older that I realized creativity and artistry aren't one in the same. The first is a measure of imagination, the second skill. And both are wholly subjective.
According to Randall Munson, the founder of International Creativity Month, we are born creative and taught to be uncreative as we grow older. “A center for creative learning studied the creativity of children and found that during the first five years, 90% of children are highly creative. The next two years, ages 6-7, the percentage of highly creative children dropped to 10%. By ages 8-9, the percentage of highly creative children fell to only 2% and stayed about that level from that time on.”
So Munson founded International Creativity Month as an opportunity for people to step out of their comfort zones and create something new and exciting in their lives. It's fitting that it takes place in January. While it's nearly February, I'm encouraging you to embrace Munson's mission before the month's end.
It doesn't have to be grand or complex. As defined, creativity is simply the ability to bring into existence. It's about seeing hidden patterns, connecting things that aren't normally related, and generating new ideas. And it doesn't just apply to art. From parenting to problem solving, marketing to music, science to sports, communication to cooking, creativity applies to almost every aspect of life.
“Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives…most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity…[and] when we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.”
~Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention
Creativity isn't something you can force, but you can encourage it. Here are a few tips to help you harness your creativity:
1. Just get started: don't fool yourself into thinking that everything must be 'just right'; it never will be. Sometimes starting is the hardest part, so take a small step, then keep moving forward.
2. Don't be afraid of 'mistakes': try to withhold judgement, especially at the beginning. Prioritize progress over perfection. You can always edit and refine later on.
3. Experiment with different environments: Some people are at their creative best with loud music and lots of distractions. Others require a soothing, silent space. Some find their vibe while driving or exercising. It's all about finding a space that helps you get out of your head, into your body and find your flow.
If your creative juices just aren't flowing, try moving your body or taking a break. Neuroscientists argue that we're our most creative when relaxed and/or at rest. Indeed, some of my most creative ideas occur in the middle of the night or early morning.
Most importantly, have fun with it. It's not another item for your 'to do' list, but rather an opportunity to embrace a new pattern of thinking. Maybe you experiment with a new recipe, brainstorm ways to address a pesky problem that's been bothering you, whip out your guitar, or get down and dirty with art supplies. Whatever you do, I hope you'll share it with me. I can't wait to see what you "create"!