Albert Einstein referred to creativity as combinatory play – the process of intuitively pulling together bits of disparate information, sparks of intuition, knowledge and snippets of memory. It was his view that when a person approaches a task trusting their intuition and their subconscious mind they are most likely to create something interesting and original.
The secret to creativity seems to be a willingness to do things differently – even if the risk of failure is very high – just for the joy of experimenting.
Psychologist Frank Barron, an early pioneer of research on creativity, conducted a landmark study of creative people (including writers, designers, scientists and entrepreneurs) and found the common personality traits were –
- Openness to exploring one’s internal world
- A preference for working with complexity and ambiguity
- An unusually high tolerance for disorder and chaos
- Independence and unconventional thinking
Creativity researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihaly defines creative people as those who discover problems, compared to the majority of people who solve the problems that have already been discovered by creative people. His research finds that the most creative people start with only a general, and sometimes vague, sense of a problem or an idea, and then create something new in response to it. He uses visual artists as an example, explaining that the most creative artists start with only a general sense of what they want to explore through a particular piece of artwork, and then allow the work to emerge in the flow of action, while they have their hands in the medium.
Where are YOU on your creative journey? Can you tell? Is there something new you want to explore but you’re not sure what or how? If so, I have some suggestions for you:
Start to make notes in your journal, doodle, dance, play a musical instrument. Starting at some place, any place, is better than not starting at all.
Care for yourself through your diet, exercise, rest and time out to replenish your creative well and dream big. It all helps to unlock your creative process and get you moving down the path of creative satisfaction.
Connect with nature – walking through a forest, along a beach, or anywhere beautiful can do wonders for your creative process. The physical movement helps to stimulate new ideas while integrating existing ones. Noticing the impact of your environment on your 5 senses and taking the time to describe what you see, hear, smell, touch and taste can also activate your creative process.
Try meditation – allowing yourself to be taken on a journey through a guided meditation can be a great way of releasing unhelpful thoughts and making way for new ideas. You can try the exercises in my book Creative Visualization (at this link) and you can try listening to guided meditations on YouTube.
Negotiate with your inner critic – understanding that your critical mind is with you is the first step to managing it. Knowing how and when to silence it is essential to getting the creative work done. Knowing how and when to let it speak is essential to the final editing and polishing phase of completing your creative work.
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Listen to an interview with me, talking about the creative mind, creativity as a therapeutic practice, creativity addiction and life with a daily creative practice.