Creativity is probably my favorite subject of all time. It has a number of definitions that I like pulling apart and discussing with anyone who’s interested. Are you?
There’s something profound and miraculous about being creative. For me, it’s worth blabbing about with other people. I am obsessed with art, being an artist, and talking to other artists. Thanks for indulging me all this time. You all are so awesome.
In a recent post, I wrote out definitions about the differences in talent, skill, and creativity. Simply put, creativity is generally defined as: the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc. -Dictionary.com.
Other sources add things like: thinking out of the box or improving on results -ArtinContext.org. Or: the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems or communicating with others. -Robert E. Franken, California State University Northridge.
I like those too.
Robert Sternberg of Cornel University has said it is the production of “something original and worthwhile.”
That one is interesting. Who judges what is worthwhile? But maybe that’s another conversation.
We could really go on forever because many people have come up with multiple interpretations of what creativity means. Kinda like art. And who can define that one?
There are also “process theories” to creativity, and there’s one, in particular, I want to highlight for the purpose of demystifying the idea of having some omnipotent ability to be a creative person.
There’s a book by R.W. Weisberg entitled, “Creativity: Beyond the Myth of Genius,” where he argues that creativity only involves ordinary cognitive processes yielding extraordinary results. Meaning, it doesn’t necessarily take a Mozart to produce novel concepts.
This brings me back to the idea of what I’ve said before about only needing enough skill to transcend a meaningful, new concept in order to make an impact on your audience. Not talent. It’s more about imagination and originality than anything else.
Would you believe that knowing your Core Values has a lot to do with this? It gives you the stable confidence you need to tap into your imagination.
So, I have a couple of exercises for you that you might find helpful. Now that I’ve put you through the gamut of all my other articles that include writing in the last seven weeks, what’s a couple more, right?
The first one is called the Bulls Eye Values Exercise, which is based on a therapeutic module that I changed up to specifically apply to visual artists. It’s all explained in this 5-page PDF worksheet I created, especially for you. I’ve personally found this a helpful tool that I can go back to just to get myself back in line.
I am hoping to get artists to get in touch with their authentic selves and focus on all the possibilities in front of them both creatively and surrounding their art careers. Possibilities are endless. Always.
With that in mind, another creative process that I use (all the time), is (in my opinion) an essential way to find your voice and be a true original. And not just that. It’s a way to get you to be able to visually communicate freely. I’m serious. I believe this to be like a secret weapon because the original way I learned this process changed my life’s work.
I have long wanted to teach this technique to people as it was taught to me by Ellie Blankfort, but I no longer use the same process as she instructed it, nor is her invention mine to teach. Instead, I can only tell you what’s been working for me since I’ve morphed it into my own sort of daily exercise. It has helped me find a line of communication from my hand directly into my mind, which is the best way I can explain it.
It is simply a writing-drawing exercise. I choose to do this in the morning while I have my coffee or when I’m done with my emails. I do it when my head is clear for take-off, when I’m alone, and where it’s quiet.
I use a blank, spiral-bound sketchbook (so that it can always lie flat on a table). Each day gets two pages—the two I open the book to.
On the left side, I start to write anything and everything that comes into my head. It is totally stream-of-consciousness writing, all the way down to the end of the page. I do not stop. I do not think about it or whether it makes sense or if it is stupid. It’s totally private for my eyes only, so I just keep writing.
By the way, you don’t have to do this on the left side. It’s NOT a left/right brain thing because that theory is actually bunk. This is just how I do it.
When I’m done writing to the end of the page, I pick out a few single words that stand out to me. I either highlight them with a highlighter or circle them.
With those few words in mind, I begin drawing with a PEN on the right side page that is blank. I use a ballpoint Fisher space pen. I never erase, and in fact, I hardly lift the pen up. I do not think about who will ever see this drawing, and it will never be “rendered” later. It is fully raw. I do not think about seeming crazy or stupid. If I think I should turn my pen left, then I try to push myself to go right and just keep drawing roughly and quickly. I don’t make it anything in particular, but if it becomes something, then so be it. I just draw something until it feels done.
I’d like you to try this for at least a couple of weeks. Do it for at least fifteen minutes every day in a quiet space. Even if you do the gist of it, just write, pull out a few words that speak to you, then draw, (but use a pen, and don’t erase). See what transpires.
You might be surprised at what extraordinary things might change in your psyche. For me, after many years of this, self-awareness occurred, and an easiness of my thoughts began to roll off my hand like magic. Images appeared that were seemingly not my own (but they were). I believe they come from my deepest creative self or from a land somewhere that crazy doesn’t even want to visit.
But it’s helped me to embrace mistakes, make them on purpose, think outside of the box, and, most importantly, be my core self. I think that’s the key, and I’ll keep preaching that until you throw up in a bucket.