Friday, August 26, 2011

Creativity from Yours Truly: Steps to Creativity

Day 5 of HEIA: Creativity.

I am a creative person. As a little girl, I would play pretend for hours. I was a mother during the American Revolution. A mermaid in the midst of a deep and mysterious sea, a playful puppy, and even a gardener. I wore elaborate crowns and ruled my country in humility. I painted masterpieces. I educated young pupils in my classroom. I built fortresses and flew airplanes. I was anything and everything I wanted to be.

It often surprises me now when I hear anybody, young or old, say they aren't creative and that their imagination is lacking. Now that just seems absurd -- no creativity? Bah.

As adults, whether we are artists, teachers, doctors, politicians, pastors, parents, fashionistas, chefs, or athletes, we share one thing in common: the ability to create something where nothing existed before.

And so my friends, I created a list of pointers on how to become a more creative person:

1. Believe in yourself.
Back when I started working on my art minor, I walked into my first figure drawing class and felt very much like a journalist in a room full of artists. I was sure I wouldn't stack up against the rest. My teacher, Terry Morrow, was a tough grader, too, but told us almost every class that we were the "creme de la creme," that our minds were brilliant and we were capable of learning. I needed him to have that confidence for me when I couldn't, but I quickly learned that I really am capable. In fact, by the end of the semester I had won the title of "most improved."

A drawing of the same model on the first day of class and then towards the end. In the words of Terry, the "Big Mich" would have been really very proud.

2. Record your creativity.
Believe it our not, your brain is kind of like a giant black hole. You might have a brilliant idea right now, but if you don't record it, it will end up lost in the vast dark space that is your head. Record it -- cell phone, pad of paper, photo, whatever. I don't care how, but record it.

3. Think like a photographer.
Photographers zoom in and pan out. They consider different angles. They're continually considering how they could make a shot just a little bit better. Take a seemingly simple concept or idea, and analyze it from every angle. Zoom in and consider the detail. Pan out and see the bigger picture. Flip it over, go to the back, bend down, or stand on your tip toes to see how a different perspective might look. I mean this both literally and symbolically: think like a photographer.

4. Be curious. Learn from others. And tweak.
In every facet of your life ask questions. And after you've asked the first question, ask another. Consider "what if..." and go with it. The more you know and learn, the bigger your pool of knowledge you'll have to pull from to be creative with. And be okay with learning in different ways: playing, talking, reading, doing, observing. Of course, remember that once you've learned something, it's okay to take it, tweak it and make it your own. It's all good.

5. Get the crap out of the way so you can find the gold (aka drafts are okay).
For some reason, we'd all like to think the first time we try a new idea it's going to go over perfectly. This rarely happens. I've learned over the last few years, that if you get the crap out, you can find the gold. Let me use two different analogies to explain:
      1. Writers don't complete a story in one draft. They write the first draft, and it usually sucks. Then they revise. And revise again. Then their piece of crap is a piece of gold.
      2. Drawing people is hard. But if you spend 60 minutes painstakingly trying to make everything perfect it's probably still not going to be very good. But if you spend 60 minutes working on 6 different drawings, a few of them are bound to turn out pretty good, and then you can build upon the good ones.

6. Banish fear of failure.
This goes along with number five: you'll probably fail at one point or another, but that's okay. Not every idea is going to be a gem. Not every creative burst of energy is brilliant. But you're still brilliant and capable, and yes, creative. You'll probably have to try again, and you'll probably have to try again often. That's okay. Accept it. Love it.

7. Practice and work.
Let's be honest, any creative endeavor takes effort and work on our part. If you're a writer, a dancer, a musician, a parent, an engineer -- whatever -- you've got to work on it. Put in the necessary practice and elbow grease to develop your creativity and/or develop an idea.

8. Polish and brainstorm.
Most things aren't complete until the final touches have been added. Ideas and creativity are the same way -- sometimes they start as a seed of an idea, and with effort, flourish into a whole tree. If you have the inkling of a good idea, keep running with it until it becomes something bigger. I like using an idea map like below:

9. Let your ideas breath.
Sometimes we're too hard on ourselves. Sometimes we beat ideas to a pulp. And sometimes, it's better to take a break and come back to it later when your mind is clear.

Now, go forth and create! And while you're at it, keep this in mind:

"I believe a capacity for creativity is inherent in our natures...This attribute finds different expressions in each one of us. In many it remains largely dormant because it is never given an opportunity to emerge. It is likely that each one of us has creative powers that can be developed and that can add significantly to the joy and satisfaction we experience in our lives."


Want to add your voice to the discussion on creativity? E-mail me at hannahmoore2007 at hotmail dot com for more details.


Er. said...

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." Also, people should not run away after committing a mistake, they need to learn from it, and evolve to be someone better and yes, all these 9 points sum up everything. Really!

Amy said...

I love this. Letting ourselves develop our creativity can be a challenge sometimes but your steps are awesome! :)

PS I feel like we were the same child: I would imagine all the same things you would... I grew up in a fantasy land haha!

Hannah said...

Arjit, I couldn't agree more!! Thanks for sharing. :)

Amy, thank you. Hooray for vivid kid imaginations!

Kyle said...

I love the way you show how creativity progresses through your artwork! The first picture is better than I could ever do but the second one is amazing!

I tend to not think of myself as a creative person but reading this, it reminded me that I have to remember that we're all creative in different ways. Great series!

Hannah said...

Kyle, thanks so much! I am SO glad you've been inspired...that's the whole point. :)

Natalie | Make Today Great said...

Great ideas! I really need to channel my creative buttons and ideas... I think the more you encourage creativity, the stronger that 'muscle' gets.

Hannah said...

I definitely agree, Natalie. I think you do it pretty well through fashion though!

Brandy Harris said...


I felt such a connection with you and with creativity while reading your blog. I am inspired! You beautifully described concepts that I knew, but had not yet put words to, and you reminded me about the big picture.

Thank you!

Hannah said...

Ah...thank you SO much, Brandy! :) I was hoping to touch somebody when I wrote this!

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