The Creativity Muscle 

I’m used to training and the laborious grind of honing a specialized skill a la my years in band and cross-country running, so when I heard that the same could be done with creativity, I was naturally intrigued.

As it turns out, creativity is less of a divine gift from the Seven, but more like our pectorals, which get stronger with training.

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‘I bestow unto you Dylan of the House Lee, no natural-born creativity’

A Few Interesting Things About Creativity:

  • Genes may explain as little as 10% of our creative potential. This makes sense. It’s not as if Picasso could paint straight out of the womb.
  • And here’s an observation: Creative disciplines like art, music, and design are like any other discipline with experts in the field- Deliberate practice improves their skill. To expand on our Picasso metaphor, here’s a quote by the Seattle-based rapper Macklemore,

“The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great cause they paint a lot.”

As you can see, creativity is a subject of much research and debate today, and even definitions of exactly what creativity is are being debated. Currently, the ‘4 C Model’ of creativity is the popular model today, differentiating between everyday creativity and ‘course-of-history-changing-creativity.’

kaufman-and-beghetto-4c-model

So You Want to Be More Creative?

Now that we’ve definitely (kind of) and concretely (more or less) established exactly what creativity is and that it can be improved, it’s time to hit the Creativity Gym.

It’s like 24Hour Fitness for art. It also doesn’t literally exist.

Instead, it exists in the training and practice that you put in to your specific craft.

It could be painting, manufacturing, blacksmithing, design, coding; whatever your craft is, it can be fine-tuned technically and creatively.

In a FastCompany Article by Gwen Moran, Jean Maginnis, founder and executive director of the Maine Center for Creativity, says that “when you think about it, if you wanted to build your upper body, you’d do specific exercises. When you develop a practice of something, it gets stronger. When the micro does it, the macro gets affected by it, too.”

To illustrate the point, think about getting better at drawing. Even if you’re currently decent at drawing, you could always improve your creativity in drawing right?

To improve, you’d practice specific drawing exercises. It may not necessarily be what you’d think of being the most creative thing, but once you’ve mastered techniques, you can combine, alter, or invent techniques that allow you to create new things.


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“Practice being creative and finding new ways to do things you already understand how to do as a start”

Maybe it won’t create a totally new style of drawing, but by using your trained expertise and artistic influences, you can create something really unique.

This is just the beginning.

Finding new ways of doing old things is little-c creativity, and probably the most common type of creativity. Little by little, our ideation becomes easier and we’re able to find creative solutions easier. This is us becoming more creative through practice.

We aren’t all going to be Picasso, but by starting small, it allows us to become more creative beings (and then who knows where that’ll take us?).

Girl-Before-A-Mirror-By-Pablo-Picasso

As you embark on your creative journey, here are some tips for being more creative and creating an environment that fosters creativity:

  • Studies show that we’re more creative when we have a beer in us (just not when we have 8).
  • Surround yourself with creativity. Looking at creative blogs, artwork, and design can help you to draw influences from a wide range of sources and formulate new ideas. This is why travel can help you become more creative.
  • Maintain a routine. Forming a routine can put you into a mindset to be more creative. By forming physical habits, you can form creative habits and set time for creative work every day. Here’s a whole blog of routines of creative people.
  • Never ever stop learning.
  • Carry a notebook with you. Take notes whenever something strikes you, whether it’s something you experience or something that pops into your head. You never know when and where inspiration will decide to happen.
  • Exercise every day.
  • Remove obstacles: If you know things like games or news or social media is counter-productive to your creative process, remove them when you’re in a time of creative work.

DeathtoStock_Wired3

The Bottom Line

The more you practice being creative, the more creative you’ll be.

It’s really as simple as that, and changing your mentality from ‘Creativity is a talent’ to ‘Creativity is a skill’ will help you to put in deliberate practice into being more creative in something that you’re passionate about.

IMAGE CREDITS: Game of Thrones, Hubspot, Unsplash

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