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Principles of creativity > Practice!

Learning to think | Learning by doing | Practice, practice | See also


There is a myth about creativity that it is all about genius and talent. Certainly, there is no smoke without fire, and some people do have a particular bent for it, but the reality is that we all have far more capability to be creative than we realize.

When were were children, we were more creative than our parents and teachers could handle. We thus learned not to be creative, and most of our lessons were structured and controlled, and the lessons were so effective for many of us, we were left with the belief that were never creative and could never be creative.

The patterns of non-creativity often carry on as we grow older and we get stuck in habits and 'I am not creative' goes from being an excuse to a description the mental ruts into which we fall.

Learning to think

Just as we can learn to swim, so also can we learn to think. People such as Edward de Bono have put significant effort into teaching thinking as an acquired skill. Socrates did it many years ago. He would answer a question with another question, forcing his disciples, including Plato and Aristotle, to think for themselves.

A simple way you can do this is to buy puzzle books, especially those that include tricky and lateral thinking games. Cryptic crosswords are another mind-bender that helps you climb out of your rut. You can also vary the method - jigsaw puzzles, for example, helps your visualization.

Another variant is to sign up for a class where you will have to think outside your normal patterns of thought. If you are a scientist, take an arts class. If you are an artist, study philosophy. You can also do these in your spare time. Books cost pennies and contain gold dust and gems.

Learning by doing

The army uses a term: 'muscle memory'. When you go on a long march, your muscles seem to remember how to march a long way, and months later a similar march is nowhere near as hard. The same is true with creativity. Once you have opened the gates and got stuck into some really hard creative work (it is a myth that it is all fun and easy).

Get engaged in any creative activity you can. Offer your self as an out-of-the-box thinker for other people's brainstorming sessions. Paint, sculpt or take photographs. Climb mountains and shout from the hilltops.

Do things to break your own paradigms. Wear different clothes. Get a different haircut. Enter for creative competitions. Read things you wouldn't normally read. Step outside the box and push the boundaries to expand your comfort zone.

Practice, practice

The secret is to keep on going with as many different things as your brain can take. Go on different holidays. Take up different hobbies. Drive to work by different routes.

Build yourself a regular schedule of practicing creativity. Just like going to the gym, spend quality time in practice. Plan the activities and exercises you will do, as well as the ways you will use it to enhance your life.

Many people have found simple, but valuable ideas that they have turned into profitable businesses. Do you think you could not do that? What is stopping you? Mostly it is just a little voice in your head. Make friends with it or tell it to *** off. You are in charge of the bus.

And keep on generating ideas. Look around you for problems to solve. There are many opportunities all around you, right now. Look at the issues you and others are facing. Look at the little difficulties, from unscrewing a tight lid in the kitchen to lifting heavy items out of the car.

Practice may not make perfect, but it will make you a whole lot better at creativity.

See also

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