A post from Church Creatives
When I was in graduate school, I took a course actually entitledCreativity: the Person and the Process. Unfortunately, I learned a lot of fascinating things in that semester that I have since forgotten. Fortunately, I have learned far more on the topic in the years since. So you’re a creative, but what do you know about creativity? Some of what you know might be wrong. This tutorial of sorts will debunk a few myths about who we are and what we do—the person and the process of creativity.
Creativity is right-brained.
True creativity requires both left and right-brained functions. For something to generally be considered creative, it must be both original and useful. During the creative process, your brain tosses tiny bits of inspiration and input back and forth like ping-pong played with a revolving Rubik’s cube. Ideas require both divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking supplies the infinite possibilities and convergent thinking pares those choices down to the best solutions—whether it’s choosing the right color scheme, choreographing a dance, or programming some terrifically tight code. It’s in the novel connections between the two that infant ideas are conceived and birthed.
Creativity equals art.
The strength of a person’s creative power has little to do with traditional artistic ability. Evidence of this art bias is woven into our culture though—if you draw, dance, design, or are an artist by trade you’re somehow more creative than everyone else. Untrue. Creativity testing done on musicians and engineers uncovered similar curves, highs, and lows—revealing really creative musicians and engineers but really uncreative ones in each group, too. Creative expression emerges in non-artistic arenas like diagnosing a complicated illness or connecting the dots to reveal new patterns of data.
Creatives are dark and moody.
When we envision creative geniuses, it’s easy to picture brooding Beethovens or skulking Einsteins. But traits like depression, anxiety, and negativity actually shut down creativity. Although contentment is a luxury many creatives seldom afford themselves, you’ll find the best of us to be open-minded, engaged, and energetic explorers. No matter how creative you are or aren’t, immature behaviors can be a crippling crutch. Being a pain in the butt doesn’t mean you’re more creative. Being inspired should be inspiring.
Creatives are just born that way.
You can always become more creative than you are. Educational research confirms that people of all ages and stages can improve their creative ability. Anytime you’re about to start a session where you need to create—like a brainstorming meeting, starting a design project, or writing a tutorial—a great way to get your creative juices flowing is to play. My favorite is a divergent thinking game called, “What else could it be?” Simply pick up any item within grasp and list all of the other things you could imagine it as—a CD could be something benign like a coaster or the rings around Saturn. In a group setting, pass the item around the circle a few times taking turns. For convergent thinking, you may find it fun to force yourself to fit within an artificial constraint. Maybe try to see how many sentences you can write without using the letter f (like this one was up until that last letter). But the best way to improve creativity is to reduce the activities that put your brain into Neutral. Anything that feels mind-numbing probably is.