Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, and then producing. Innovation is the production or implementation of an idea. If you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.
Make a habit of these seven practices, and you will be highly creative in your field:
1. Prepare the ground
“In creating, the only hard thing’s to begin; A grass-blade’s no easier to make than an oak.”—James Russell Lowell
Creativity requires an absorbed mind, a relaxed state of focus and attention. Give yourself the time and space you need to get completely absorbed in the zone of creativity and inspiration. Let the desire to create come from the pure pleasure of creative expression. If you worry about being perfect, you may never begin.
2. Plant seeds for creativity
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we create the world.” —The Buddha
We amplify what we think about most. Put your attention on what you want to create, not on complaints. Set an intention to produce the results you desire.
3. Live in the question
“Be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart. And try to love the questions themselves.” —Rainer Maria Rilke
It’s been said that at the age of 5, children ask 120 questions a day, at age 6 they ask only 60 questions a day, and at the age of 40, adults ask 4 questions a day. We adults need to embrace “beginner’s mind,” and ask questions, instead of trying to find immediate answers. Pay attention to questions other people ask, especially those from artists, scientists, and thought leaders. Collect questions you find compelling.
4. Feed your brain
“If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like old faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting.” —Ray Bradbury
Be curious and follow your nose. Get interested in something and it will later provide you with a goldmine of ideas if you learn to make connections between people, places and things that would not ordinarily be connected. Combining ideas, and making connections are key practices of creativity employed by artists, designers, and scientists.
5. Experiment & explore
“I make more mistakes than anyone else I know, and sooner or later, I patent most of them.”—Thomas Edison
Edison was a both a prolific inventor and innovator, producing over 1,093 patents. He was also a master at learning from failed experiments. When he died in 1931 he left behind 3,500 notebooks containing details of his ideas and thoughts. If you follow your curiosity, experiment with ideas, and learn from your mistakes, the quality of your creativity will vastly improve.
6. Replenish your creative stock
“As artists, we must learn to be self-nourishing.” —Julia Cameron
Joni Mitchell describes her replenishing process as field rotation. When she needs a break, she switches form singing and song writing to painting.
7. The secret to liberating your creativity
While there is no magic bullet that will liberate your creativity, it can be helpful to remember how you played as a child. What absorbed you to the extent that you lost track of time? Your child’s play provides the clue to your creativity, your talents and your passion. What connections can you make from lessons you have learned at play that you can apply to your work?
Creativity takes on many forms in business, art, design, education and science. When we express our creativity in these domains, we have the ability to make life and work a work of art.