Six signposts to greater creativity

2014

This time around, I'm using six quotes about creativity to inspire some practical steps that will help us putting their messages into action.

1: "It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all." – Edward de Bono

ACTION: Make a ritual of coming up with 10 ideas a day about whatever project or topic is your focus at the moment. Don't judge them as you go; write down even the ones you know immediately wouldn't work. Two bad ideas that occur to you at different times sometimes combine to make one good one.

Write these ideas in a notebook or computer file. Once a month go over them to assess their usefulness, and implement the ones that could propel your progress.

2: "The most potent Muse of all is our inner child." – Stephen Nachmanovitch

ACTION: Set aside to some time to play a little, then have a brainstorming session while still in that mindset. If you have lost touch with your inner child, here are some ways to reconnect.

So you could watch the cartoons you loved (you'll find most of them on YouTube); play a board game; draw a picture (if you like it, stick it on your refrigerator door); make up a poem; play with some children and let them make up the rules of the game.

3: "The highest prize we can receive for creative work is the joy of being creative. Creative effort spent for any other reason than the joy of being in that light-filled space, love, god, whatever we want to call it, is lacking in integrity…" – Marianne Williamson

ACTION: If you are holding yourself back from some creative activity (writing, painting, making a movie, or whatever it may be) because you are afraid you won't succeed, consider redefining success. Maybe the very act of creating IS success.

4: "We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own and other people's models, learn to be ourselves and allow our natural channel to open up." – Shakti Gawain

ACTION: Set aside a bit of quiet time to consider what you are doing mainly because it is expected of you by society, by your friends and family, by your parents (or their memory). Make a list. Are there items on there that no longer serve you? What is the worst that could happen if you stopped doing those? What is the best that could happen (e.g., what would you have more time for)? It can be scary but starting with one small thing will give you more courage.

5: "I began by tinkering around with some old tunes I knew. Then, just to try something different, I set to putting some music to the rhythm that I used in jerking ice-cream sodas at the Poodle Dog. I fooled around with the tune more and more until at last, lo and behold, I had completed my first piece of finished music." – Duke Ellington

ACTION: Tinkering is a lot less intimidating than inventing. If there's something you'd like to create, start with something that exists, get into a playful state of mind, and tinker. As with all creative activity, put aside the impulse to judge, that comes later.

There are lots of attributes you can play around with: size, frequency, color, shape, sound, look, feel, smell, purpose. Try applying each one.

6: "If you hear a voice within you say, 'You cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." – Vincent Van Gogh
ACTION: The same applies to whatever your voice may be saying you cannot do. We tend to think that the belief comes first, then action, but it works the other way around, too. If you think you can't write, paint, get fit, learn a language...just start. Don't wait for that voice to stop, treat it as background noise.

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About The Author

Jurgen Wolff
Jurgen Wolff

Jurgen Wolff is a writer, teacher, and hypnotherapist. His goal is to help individuals liberate their own creativity through specific techniques that can be used at work as well as at home. His recent books include "Focus: the power of targeted thinking," a W. H. Smith best-seller, and "Your Writing Coach".