Is Developing Creativity Possible?
Is developing creativity a worthwhile pursuit? There are many tutorials out there, that will teach you almost anything. But rarely do people talk about developing creativity. Sure, you can develop bigger muscles or you can learn more Math, but can you develop your creativity? Yes, according to research in 2004 … “..it was found that well-designed creativity training programs typically induce gains in performance..”
(Source: Ginamarie Scott, Lyle E. Leritz, and Michael D. Mumford, Creativity Research Journal, 2004, Vol. 16, No. 4, 361–388) related article here
Artists Have been Hacking Creativity for centuries
If you think about it, people have been trying to hack creativity since the beginning of time. Some people may have a genetic advantage in terms of their creative ability, but this ability can also be developed. Creative Invention may seem like a mistake or coincidence, but it’s not really. If you study the biographies of many creative people remembered by history, a pattern becomes obvious. Most of the creative people we admire, had some consistent practice. They were attempting to create very often.
Why It’s Hard to Have a Creativity Exercise
It has to do with, what creativity is. If you practice push ups regularly, your arms, chest and related muscles will stay strong. But what about creativity? Creativity means: “going to the next level”, “thinking outside the box”, “finding a new solution”, etc. Just repeating the same practice won’t do you much good in terms of creativity. What is required is “getting outside of your comfort zone”.
The Side-Effects of Creativity
Developing creativity may seem a very hippie pursuit and one may expect that it’s all free and it’s all good. The truth is creativity often comes at a price. It’s very unlikely that you will get into “the zone” with no effort. It feels effortless once it starts working for you, but until you get into that creative state, it will probably be difficult. Another fact that is true for most of creative work – it is exhausting. It may feel very light and easy during your performance, but once it’s done, you will feel the some sort of tiredness. It can be physical, it can be in the form of low concentration, or it can manifest as a very low willpower. It’s wise to plan for a recovery period and rest, after doing some deep creative work.
Different Approaches to Developing Creativity
Don’t expect one solution that will fit all lifestyles. Some people’s profession demand high levels of creativity to stay competitive. For others, creativity is something they pursue as their hobby or spiritual goal.
Get Comfortable With Being out of Your Comfort Zone
One thing you can practice is to increase your general creativity threshold. This can be an important factor when developing creativity. Your ability to enter a creative flow state is maybe limited by some physical and psychological factors. When you are developing general creative capacity, it means you deal with blockers that usually stop you from being creative. There may be some fear, or the general discomfort that is associated with entering the creative state. If you get used to the feeling, next time you are about to enter your creative zone, you won’t listen to the reflex that is telling you to stop.
Narrow Down, or Open Up
There is always something to further develop. Usually, there are two major directions in which you can get out of your comfort zone. One way is to get more specialized, and focus more on the details of what you already know. Ask yourself – “how can I do this even better?”. Take the time to learn even more about your partner, or go the extra mile for your next customer. The other approach is to widen your knowledge or skills. This means starting to learn a new language, changing job positions, getting in a new relationship.
Your Craft is Your Art
By focusing on your craft, and making that the default playground for your creative endeavors, you’ll turn it into an Art. There is great value in doing so. This is what masters do, and what will make other people go “Wow!”. Once you get over the fear and discomfort of being creative, you’ll gain creative confidence. The next step is to focus to developing creativity in the area of your life that needs it the most. This can be different in different periods of your life. Whatever the case, to have the ability to create and be creative is immensely empowering.
Timing the “One Week Productivity Challenge”
Finally, what I suggest is to try the following exercise. Since Creativity is demanding, don’t set goals to do it all the time 24/7. Instead choose a small portion of your monthly calendar and declare it as you “creative week” or weekend, or a block of a few days. Choose whichever suits your lifestyle, but make sure you set definitive boundaries to this exercise and try to keep it below 10 days.
Set Goals That Slightly Scare You. For that period set slightly overwhelming goals. Goals that, if achieved will have you at least slightly surprised. Imagine yourself achieving your goals and your reaction is something like : “Wow, that was me?! No way, it doesn’t look like me. Hell Yeah! I can’t believe this.” .
Break It Down in Small Goals
When setting up your goals, plan for many different step that you need to take to get to 100% of your goal. If you set it up so that you can have 20%, 30% , 70%, etc, and not just “success” or “failure” you are more likely to be productive and not get blocked.
Don’t Give Up
If you don’t succeed the first time you do the “one week productivity challenge”, don’t worry, the success is in the growth. If you put in serious time and effort, learning and development will certainly take place. You will be much wiser the next time you do the “OWPC”. Repeat the challenge and in a few weeks you will be mind-blown.