How do we spark more creativity in our lives as creatives? It’s easy to slip into the romanticized notion that it just happens. But does it? There are already plenty of articles, books, and websites devoted to the very topic. We’re constantly searching for answers. But the real truth is that creativity is something we have work at. It doesn’t just happen. We make it happen. How?
I’m no stranger to finding out everything I can about creativity. NPR did a wonderful exploration of the source of creativity, which I love. But through my personal research, I’ve started to boil creativity down to what’s happening when it sparks.
Remember when you were young and you had nothing but questions? Then, as you began to absorb information, your world appeared to be a little more safe and stable. And even though we know that the world is anything but, we still find comfort in that kind of security. But creativity doesn’t begin from what we know. It begins from what we don’t quite yet understand. This is where curiosity plays a part. Curiosity is all about asking questions. If you’re feeling stuck creatively, start by asking more questions.
Not all artists make empathy a part of their process, but a lot of artists unintentionally do. Think about it. Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of another. It’s all about understanding people. How does this play a part in the creative process? Art is all about emotions. It's all about evoking emotions in another. When we begin to reflect on that kind of powerful effect, we'll start to understand just how embedded empathy should be in our process.
This one may seem counterproductive. After all, many of us have been instilled with an industrial model of creation. Produce! Produce! Produce! But our brains are constantly making and remaking meaning with every experience. There's a wonderful metaphor in Cræft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts in which Alexander Langlands compares the creative process to the art of maintaining hedges, which often take years to grow into their full form. The gardener knows this, yet continues pruning and cutting day by day with a certainty of what will be.
imagine that final works of art are much like that. I may not have a finished work at the end of the day, but in my own way, I have been "pruning" and "cutting" away. Every little note scribbled on a piece of paper. Every time I journal or revise (for the 100th time) a draft of a poem. And, if I remember to be patient, I know with certainty that I am indeed shaping something into being.
Create & Ideate is a space for my unruly ideas, plenty of creativity, and all things writing. As a writer, I’m always seeking ways to understand my art and be inspired. I hope you find a little inspiration here, too.