“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” OSHO
Although you may not think of yourself as being creative, we all show artistic flair in different ways. Take two minutes to think of as many uses as you can for a common paper clip.
How many did you find?
Over the years such tests have been used to measure divergent thinking and creativity. Psychologists have also used riddles to measure convergent thinking or creative problem-solving potential. Here is one for you to solve.
“A box without hinges, key or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid. What is it?”
[Hint: Bilbo Baggins may give you a clue]
Creativity for me is a form of expression creating a link between the internal and external worlds. The most important thing is to be able to release my emotions and find a way to make them come alive.
I can turn my creative urges to everyday life or I can express myself by writing. Creativity is principally cathartic. Having the power to give form to what I feel, allows me to express what’s inside using spontaneity and flow.
What stops us being creative?
According to Julia Cameron, in her book, The Artist’s Way, we block our own creativity with negative self-talk:
- It is too late to start now
- I will wait until I make enough money to do what I really love
- It is just my ego wanting to do it
- I should be more sensible as dreams do not matter
- Others might think I am crazy
Sometimes it is the imposter syndrome and fear of failure that prevents us pursuing our creative dreams.
Basic Principles of Creativity
Cameron believes that creativity is the natural order of life. We are, ourselves, divine creations and in turn, are meant to be creative beings. As our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source, it is safe to open ourselves up to greater creativity.
Many artists talk about letting the artwork flow through them and according to Jackson Pollock,“the painting has a life of its own.” Philosopher Peter Koestenbaum described creativity as “harnessing universality and making it flow through your eyes.” While musician Stephen Nachmanovitch referred to our own inner child as “the most potent muse of all”.
Lyricist and poet Leonard Cohen said he felt uncomfortable taking praise for his poetry as “the words come from a place where no one commands and no one conquers.” Had he known where the good songs came from, he would have gone there more often.
Jon Kabat-Zinn believes in “letting things be and allowing them to unfold in their own way” which is a form of mindfulness or non-doing. Buddhist-style mindfulness also includes staying in the moment and taking a non-judgemental orientation which are pre-requisites for staying in flow.
When writing, the process of composition can be experienced as a journey. When you start, you do not need to know where you are going. You just take one step forward, then another. Later you can look back to see where you have been.
An Ode to Flow
In her book, Writing in Flow, author Susan Perry interviewed more than 75 award-winning authors who shared their techniques for enhancing writing creativity.
Many of them talked about the state of flow as having a mystical nature. Some described the power of another force or muse being akin to having an out-of-body experience. Perry describes Flow as “the inspired freedom and creativity achieved when you lose yourself completely in an activity. Time, stress and writer’s block melt away, resulting in a unique voice…”
When I wrote Chasing Marigolds it was not my intention to write a book but I found each morning I would pick up a pen and couldn’t stop writing. The ideas kept coming and the little voice inside my head kept telling me to keep going. Whenever I questioned “Are you sure?” the reply was a resounding “Yes”.
People write for many different reasons but these final words I will leave to author Amy Tan who says, “I write because oftentimes I can’t express myself any other way…I write for very much the same reasons I read: to startle my mind, to churn my heart, to tingle my spine…Writing for me is an act of faith, a hope that I will discover what I mean by truth.”
[answer to riddle – an egg]