Sunday, March 4, 2012

How to be Creative

A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something - Frank Capra

How many times have we said, “why doesn’t someone invent xxx.”? Or, “if I were in charge I would xxx”?  Or you’re in the middle of “something” and have a sudden and strong urge to do something else, and when you changed gears and did it there was a delightful outcome?

These are the hunches Capra is speaking of, I believe.

Here are some definitions of creativity:
--the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations;
-- originality, progressiveness or imagination;
-- to create something of value.

It seems to me that creativity is simply looking at something that has always been there and seeing, or thinking about it in a new way -- in a way it’s never been or thought about before.

Most of us want to be more creative, be it ideas on how to start or improve a business, improve job performance, design a garden, get ideas on what to cook for dinner, decorate your home or write a book.

Various experts have suggestions on how to channel creativity. Here are some from Jeffrey Paul Baumgartner

1.  Listen to music by Johann Sebastian Bach. If Bach doesn't make you more creative, you should probably see your doctor - or your brain surgeon if you are also troubled by headaches, hallucinations or strange urges in the middle of the night. Listen to samples of Bach before you buy.

 2. Brainstorm. If properly carried out, brainstorming can help you not only come up with sacks full of new ideas, but can help you decide which is best..

3. Always carry a small notebook and a pen or pencil around with you. That way, if you are struck by an idea, you can quickly note it down. Upon rereading your notes, you may discover about 90% of your ideas are daft. Don't worry, that's normal. What's important are the 10% that are brilliant.

4. If you're stuck for an idea, open a dictionary, randomly select a word and then try to formulate ideas incorporating this word. You'd be surprised how well this works. The concept is based on a simple but little known truth: freedom inhibits creativity. There are nothing like restrictions to get you thinking.

5. Define your problem. Grab a sheet of paper, electronic notebook, computer or whatever you use to make notes, and define your problem in detail. You'll probably find ideas positively spewing out once you've done this.

6. If you can't think, go for a walk. A change of atmosphere is good for you and gentle exercise helps shake up the brain cells.

7. Don't watch TV. Experiments performed by Baumgartner’s JPB Creative Laboratory show that watching TV causes your brain to slowly trickle out your ears and/or nose. It's not pretty, but it happens.

8. Don't do drugs. People on drugs think they are creative. To everyone else, they seem like people on drugs.

9.  Read as much as you can about everything possible. Books exercise your brain, provide inspiration and fill you with information that allows you to make creative connections easily.

10. Exercise your brain. Brains, like bodies, need exercise to keep fit. If you don't exercise your brain, it will get flabby and useless. Exercise your brain by reading a lot, talking to clever people and disagreeing with people - arguing can be a terrific way to give your brain cells a workout. But note, arguing about politics or film directors is good for you; bickering over who should clean the dishes is not.

Additionally, this article from the Harvard Business Review is worth our time reading.

So let’s get cooking, friends (not literally, unless that’s what you want to do!) There are products to be invented (how about an easy to open package that actually lives up to its name?); hobbies to start; rooms and gardens to design; salary increases to be had; new customers to attract. Whatever we want to achieve, we can!

“There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.”  — Martha Graham, American modern dancer and choreographer.

What creative goals for yourself do you have? Do you have tips to share on how you tap into your creative side?


  1. On the subject of creativity, do you do your own drawings?
    I keep doing all the Brain Training my sons buy me. Don't see any improvement, but I suppose at my age, I should just be content with not losing.

  2. Beryl, these drawings are clip art, found at
    HAHA, we are never too old to learn new tricks. Had anyone told me a year ago I'd be blogging I'd have told them they were nuts!

  3. I hear you on the Blogging!

  4. Seems the best thing I do to be creative is the brainstorming. Very good at that but when it comes to getting it done there's always a reason it won't work. The thing I love more than anything, gardening, is easy to be creative because you can always dig it up and try another location! Great article.

  5. But no one can plant as beautiful a garden as you do!


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