What is creativity and how do we identify it?
Creativity is an essential tool for each and every profession. But what exactly is creativity? So many of us choose to assume that we had creativity when we were little and now we’ve simply lost it. It’s also widely believed that creativity is a gift only rare individuals are born with.
Creativity can mean anything from solving a very complex problem to simply thinking of different ways to solve a particular problem. Science has acknowledged that we’re all wired to create. The key is to recognize that creativity is not one dimensional. It is multifaceted and can be expressed in numerous ways. Creativity can mean uncovering a new experience or idea or forging deep personal experiences. It can be how you express yourself through words, visuals, or can even lie in the most mundane of creations.
Creativity is everywhere
To understand how the creative mind does things, let’s take the example of Le Corbusier, a very famous architect. Le Corbusier put aside the norms of a regular working day and instead chose to divide his day using his own regime. He used to work on his own drawings, ideas, and contemplations in the morning and would later collaborate with his team of draughtsmen and employees in the afternoon. Years of hard work made him realize that this routine made him produce the best designs. To keep at his productive streak, he was very strict about timings and deadlines. He used to be back home early evening to be able to socialize with family and relax. Le Corbusier knew exactly what worked and showed a number of traits, that to this date, work for highly creative people. He chose to design his life dedicated to his art so he could get the most out of it. This is how he knew that through rest, play and a good thought process his creative mind would be intact.
We’ve tried to break down the things that highly creative people do and how you can take account of that and incorporate that into your own life.
They stick with a routine that is customized according to their needs
The typical day for the working person was designed in a way so that different people could coordinate their tasks like catching the train at a designated time, coffee before work, meetings, etc. Now with the worldwide web, telecommuting and the entirety of modern communication at your fingertips, you don’t have to follow the crowd.
Creative people don’t keep standard hours of work
Look up the biggest names in your industry and you will find that these people do at least a thing or two differently. A common link that threads creative people is waking up early. Early hours help the most with creativity and most writers say that breaking dawn really helps them to work with an open, ideal mind. For developers and designers, the night time is more suitable. There’s no rule here. It can be early morning, post-midnight, or afternoon. Your most productive time of the day is for you to find out.
They don’t function like work machines
Most of us choose to believe that work comes before everything else. We feel that life only rewards people who work day in and day out. We idolize people who work hard every second of their life and focus only on it. If you choose to do that you might be successful in the short term but in the long run, you’ll feel the effects and start burning out. Your body and brain cannot create if they aren’t replenished. They need periods of relaxation to come up with great creative ideas. You can choose to be stressed out all day or choose to set boundaries for yourself so that your brain can think better.
The choice is between mediocrity and greatness
Set up a strict work routine so you work within its boundaries every day. When you do this, you’ll have plenty of time to do things that are important for your well being like exercising, writing, painting, listening to a podcast, etc. Film director David Lynch and musician Sting practice meditation each day. Just a few minutes of contemplative thought or mindful thinking can really help your brain to be more creative.
Getting lost in the flow
A major issue with most of us is how easily we get distracted. There’s so much happening everywhere, especially on our smartphones. We might be in a creative zone for 10 minutes and instead of continuing with it, we pick up our smartphones to do a google search on something completely irrelevant, thus breaking the flow. One of the most important traits creative people incorporate in their lifestyle is getting lost in their work and going with the flow. They get in the zone and get rid of all distractions. This, however, is easy to say but very difficult to actually practice every day and make a habit of, unless you keep trying to stay in the moment, concentrating on your present, one day at a time.
By keeping at it, you can find those moments of joy when you’ve finally gotten up, only to realize that the day has passed without you noticing and all this while you were focused on creating something beautiful.
Creative people know how to recognize their worst work
It is extremely important to understand when you’re performing poorly. Just like a day of high productivity makes us feel fulfilled, a day of sitting on the couch on social media and working for short bursts of time can make us feel very low by the end of the day. It is important to therefore self reflect and understand when you are not performing at your optimum level. Highly creative people need constant bursts of creativity so that their minds are occupied or else they tend to get bored. To avoid that they either have specific routines as mentioned above or they divide their time between interchanging gaps of work and play.
Creative people are the world’s most willful procrastinators
Since creative people need to have something interesting to do all the time, they’re often called the world’s most willful procrastinators. However, that’s not all bad. Sometimes to get something brilliant you need time. Richard Linklater‘s ‘Boyhood’ was shot over 12 years on a continuous basis so that the character transformations could be captured clearly. This remarkable stint landed the film a number of Oscar nominations. The truth is, creative people never settle for the first idea. Sky’s the limit for them. John Lubbock once said, ‘Aim for the stars and maybe you’ll reach the sky’, to which Bill Shankly added, ‘Aim for the sky and you’ll reach the ceiling. Aim for the ceiling and you’ll stay on the floor.’ Your goal should be to always shoot for the stars.
They are hungry for new experiences
Highly creative people look for creativity everywhere. They want to surround themselves with beauty, even if it’s mundane and doesn’t really make much sense. Some of the most creative people out there have a condition known as synesthesia. With it, our senses get confused and they overlap. People who have it, can ‘feel’ tastes and ‘see’ sounds. Writer Nabokov and painter Kandinsky were synesthetes. For these people, every day is a new experience. Objects and words have a new meaning every day. They hear things that are out of reach for most people and have the ability to perceive objects, numbers, and words in a way that ordinary people cannot understand. At the end of the day, most of us don’t have the innate capabilities of this sort which is why we must force ourselves to seek out new experiences every day to fulfil ourselves. Einstein, for example, was a great violinist and would take his violin everywhere whenever he had to travel the world. Creativity can be sustained only from satiating the mind with pleasurable things now and then.
Always look to express yourself in multiple different ways and look for new avenues to express yourself, creatively, and artistically.
Creativity lies in the small things
Highly creative minds do a lot of things differently but they’re not doing anything that’s special or groundbreaking. The ability to act and think creatively comes when you can self reflect and gather good knowledge about yourself and what works best for you. With that information, challenge yourself constantly. The Comfort zone is the worst place to stay in if you want your brain to become an idea-machine. Follow the dreams you’ve withheld for so long, take those risks, and deal with the failure and fail a few more times. Einstein said that a person who never made a mistake never learned anything new.
Now it’s time for you to get out of your comfort zone, create something, and keep at it till you see the results.