Take a minute to reflect on the creative practices that make up your own unique creativity. Learn how to use that information to challenge your creativity even more!
Here’s the story.
Too often we hear the word creativity and immediately equate it to art. Art is creative. But, not all creativity is necessarily art. This is good because we also often assume that one needs to be an artist to be creative. Nope, not even close to being the case.
As I have said many a time, creativity is turning ideas into reality. With that in mind, I started reflecting on my creativity. I was thinking through all the different aspects of my creativity and how they each have a different role and serve a different purpose that is unique to me and my creativity. For example, sewing. I rarely sew just because I feel like it or to learn a new skill. Instead, I usually have a specific project I want to make. I pull out my sewing machine, I sew it. It’s always more complicated than I think it will be. I get an immense feeling of satisfaction from finishing the project. Then, I think of 30 new projects I’m going to sew. I put my sewing machine away and don’t take it out for a few months again. This works for me for sewing but wouldn’t necessarily work me if it was writing. Writing plays a different role in my creativity.
This is an interesting one because when I was younger I always thought I would write books (novels), mainly because I loved reading so much that I thought it would be the coolest thing ever to create those stories myself. However, I can’t remember ever writing fiction on my own, for fun, past second grade. It’s hard to be good at something if you don’t ever do it (duh). However I was always a good student and a good academic writer – I know/knew how to write a paper to get an A on it. But, this also made me realize that I was a boring writer. So when I launched greens + blues co. a few years ago, at first I struggled to come up with content and worried that I was boring everyone. While I don’t claim to be an amazing storyteller now, I do know that I’m better than I was before. Why? Because I write every single day. Sometimes it’s crap, but sometimes it’s not. And even if it is crap, it’s at least a starting point – it can only get better from there. Now, because of my daily writing habit, I do know that I will write a book sometime in my life (I’m just about done with a first draft). Even if no one else ever reads it – it’s still a success to me.
One more example of my creativity before we get to yours.
Drawing and I have a complicated relationship. I have always wanted to be good at drawing, but have never really been willing to put in the work/practice to improve. I’m not really setting myself up for success there. I realized part of the problem was that my goal was always “to get better at drawing.” The problem with that (for me) is that it isn’t concrete enough. I like tangible goals. So my new goal. Draw well enough that I can include some basic illustrations in the book I’m writing. Based on that, I’ve come up with a more concrete action plan, part of which is to establish a daily drawing habit. So here I go!
Enough about me, it’s your turn. Start by making a three column chart like the one below. In the first column, brainstorm all the different aspects of your creativity or creative practices. In the second column you will reflect on how often you actually practice each one. In the third column write the purpose of you practicing that particular creative activity. Take a few minutes and fill out your chart now.
* For my example I just used three examples of how I practice my creativity. You may have more, you may have less.
So what’s the point? This is a great reflection activity, but what purpose does it serve beyond that?
Your creativity is unique to you. It doesn’t look like anyone else’s but yours – nor should it! No matter how many people complete this exercise, no one’s table is going to be exactly the same. Embrace that uniqueness in your creativity.
Now that you know how you practice your creativity and why you practice it in that way – what do you do with that information? Focus on an aspect of it that you enjoy but have been letting slide. Where could you take it next? How can you challenge yourself? For example, knitting. I thoroughly enjoy knitting. Even more, I love completing an awesome new hat or scarf for myself or someone I love. But, I’ve been content to stick to the same basic knitting skills for some time. So this is an area where I can challenge myself to learn just one new technique to push myself outside of scarves and hats.
Or, you can focus on an aspect that surprises you. When I look at my creativity, I’m very surprised that I practice my creativity most often by writing. That was definitely not the case three years ago. So how did I make that change? By implementing a daily writing habit. So thinking about that, is there any other aspect of my creativity that could benefit from a daily habit? Now, realistically, I can’t practice all aspects of my creativity every single day (or every weekday which is what I actually do for writing). But I can for some. Writing is easy to make a daily habit of because it doesn’t take a long time and you don’t need many tools. Drawing is an area that I really want to be better at – so I decided I will also implement a daily habit for drawing. It doesn’t take much time – I will draw ten things or for ten minutes whichever I reach first. Simple enough. Take what you have learned about your creativity (whether it is positive or negative) and use that knowledge to improve another aspect of your creativity.
As you look through your creative practices, is there anything you don’t want to do anymore? Remember, no one is making you. So stop forcing yourself to do something that you no longer enjoy. For me, this is scrapbooking. Now, I haven’t scrapbooked in almost two years, I have moved on from it. So in addition to stopping, I also gave away any extra scrapbooking materials I had so that I didn’t have that clutter or didn’t feel like I should continue it at some point.
I would love to hear back from you after completing this exercise. What did you learn about your creativity? What surprised you? Any realizations that you came to as a result of completing this exercise?