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  • Aditi Surana

Stepping into Creativity

I have been blessed to be surrounded by artists and creative people all my life. My father was an art director, sister is an actor, closest friends are designers, photographers, chefs & writers. Even though according to me, my career as a graphologist is an artistic & creative experience, technically speaking I am professionally the least creative amongst them all. Our topic for today, ‘stepping into creativity’ is rather an inquiry to find out:

  1. What makes creative people creative?

  2. Can non-artistic professionals like me claim their creativity?

  3. What builds creativity & what kills it?

“Creativity is a crushing chore and a glorious mystery. The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.” Author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in her book ‘Big magic - Creative Living Beyond Fear.’

You may wonder why give up a tried and tested safe path to run behind an illusive idea of creativity. What’s the point?

Gilbert says, “A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you—is a fine art, in and of itself.”

Which makes me wonder, What makes creative people creative?

Human beings are born creative and then taught to be uncreative as they grow older. Pursuing our creative potential comes to a halt when we grow up.

“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” A quote by the famous Artist Pablo Picasso.

Unfortunately, this remains true till date as research shows the moment children enter school and continue to grow into adults, the creative side of their brains are used less and less.

Having said that, for some reason creatives have a whimsical, unpredictable and somewhat mystical vibe attached to them. We have all heard of myths like:

  • You are born with it.

  • You have to be right-brained.

  • Creativity falls into your lap.

  • You’ve got to be a little mad.

For most people these are excuses to never give creativity a try. They are excuses we use to avoid doing the work because we fear rejection, criticism, and failure.

Studies by Clayton Christensen and his team uncovered The Innovator's DNA: Your ability to generate innovative ideas is not merely a function of the mind, but also a function of five key behaviours that optimize your brain for discovery:

  1. Associating: drawing connections between questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields

  2. Questioning: posing queries that challenge common wisdom

  3. Observing: scrutinizing the behaviour of customers, suppliers, and competitors to identify new ways of doing things

  4. Networking: meeting people with different ideas and perspectives

  5. Experimenting: constructing interactive experiences and provoking unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge

Sir Richard Branson has a mantra that runs through the DNA of Virgin companies. The mantra is A-B-C-D. (Always Be Connecting the Dots).

Creativity is a practice. Let’s look at what exactly we can do to step into creativity.

  1. Be an observer: You can't be creative in any field without observing. A preoccupied, stressed & anxious mind fails to pause and observe. Creativity need not necessarily mean inventing something fantastic. It can be found in everyday things. In this lockdown, cleaning the ceiling fans became my thing! With every simple thing you can be creative, if you become a keen observer. If you begin observing everything that’s happening within you and outside of you.

  2. Change up your surroundings -- even minimally: I learnt this from a famous bollywood film maker of yesteryears. I used to meet him fortnightly for his coaching sessions. In every visit I would observe the furniture moved a bit, photo frames swapped, book arrangement shuffled. Other than a huge M.F. Hussain’s painting on the wall, I think he had rearranged everything in those 6 months. One day, I couldn’t curb my curiosity and asked him about all the moving & reorganising. He said, ‘moving things around helps me come up with newer ideas. Many experts call this the best trick. Not that sexy but it works for sure. Like house plants we start settling in the physical spaces that we occupy on a daily basis. Data support that creativity “nudges” can come from changes as small as a warmer cup of coffee or different colors in the room. So to implement this - Try switching some of the items on your desk, orienting yourself differently or changing the sequence of your daily routine.

  3. Write by hand - This is my favourite trick as I am biased with my love for graphology. But besides that Carrie and Alton Barron, authors of The Creativity Cure, advise us to skip the Word doc and pick up a pen instead. Sometimes the whole experience of writing by hand—the ink on our fingers, the smell of a fresh notebook—is all it takes to get creative juices flowing. Just think about it. We are becoming touch screen & keypad bound. This leads to so many different experiences having the same tactile sensation.

  4. Be aware of the creativity destroyers:

    1. Premature judgement. To be creative, you have to allow yourself to be able to generate ideas and innovate freely without judgement.

    2. Lack of courage. Creativity requires taking a chance and being courageous. Fear is the biggest enemy of creativity.

    3. Avoidance of failure by being perfect. If your goal is to avoid failure and mistakes, you will play it out conservatively and quietly. In our previous episode called - perfectly imperfect. I dive deep in this conversation. Do listen to it after you’re done listening to this episode.

    4. Taking criticism personally. Fearing criticism is fearing growth. If we don't take it personally, Criticism is merely some feedback delivered in a harsh style.

    5. Analysis paralysis. In this terrible condition you are unable to make a decision because of information overload. Set a deadline to make up your mind. Act. Act. Act.

  5. Silence: you will be surprised to know how silence and meditation can do wonders to enhance creativity. You may wonder how to be quiet and enhance expression, but it does. It is like pulling an arrow back and creating enough tension for it to travel distance.

Thank you so much for reading this post of ‘Absolutely write’. I would like to know what were your takeaways from today’s episode? What small action will you be taking to step into your creativity? Write to me on my Instagram account @Aditisurana

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