Creativity: What Do You Do to Cultivate It?

The human need to solve problems, communicate ideas and values, and the need for complex, novel stimulation motivate the development of creativity. Considered in the workforce as a soft skill, creativity doesn’t refer only to entertainment as in cinema, music, or dance. When you tend to use your imagination, synthesize information, and question assumptions, you have a creative brain.

But what if you don’t? Can you learn it, develop it?

How Is Creativity Developed?

For starters, everyone has the capability to be creative. Scientist and author George Land discovered this theory after doing a creativity test on 1,600 children. Land used the same assessment for the same test subjects as they aged, from ten through 15. His findings reveal that non-creative behavior is learned, and people start as creative children. But stifled and restricted by rules, the creative child turns into a manageable, compliant adult.

Fortunately, creativity can be learned and developed. Yes, some people may be born with it more than others. But this innate ability doesn’t preclude others from honing creativity. But instead of sitting in class and learning it through a lecture, developing creativity is done through a particular way of thinking —and learning how to do just that.

To foster creativity, you must start with a foundation of knowledge. For instance, you can enroll in a voice academy for lessons. Then, you must follow a discipline; using the voice lessons example, you could schedule periods for practicing your lessons without fail. Finally, you must master a way of thinking to raise your craft.

For adults, the development of creativity may involve unlearning what has been picked up over the years, questioning assumptions, experimenting, and exploring. You must also be willing to accept what you know may be wrong and figure out a way to build on those wrong ideas to create better ones.

What Activities Develop Creativity?

If there’s no manual for learning creativity, what can you do to develop and nurture it?

Create a space for contemplation

Most people work from home and lead a constantly connected life; that nine-to-five job suddenly becomes flexible: work can reach all hours. All the digital devices in your home and the ease it offers in your life may be preventing you from thinking things differently — from solving problems another way.

So create a space in your home where digital devices are not allowed. Use it for creative thought. Choose an issue or problem you’ve been having and focus on resolving that matter. Whatever it is, the point is to have time to consider it and do something about it.

Do Mind Mapping

If you need to visualize what is going on in your head while you come up with ideas or solutions, try mind mapping. It’s a good tool for improving your thought process.

You start with a central subject—for instance, a sculpture for someone you respect. Then, you create associations connected to this central subject, segmenting them into first associations and secondary associations; supposedly, a mind map may only illustrate what the human mind can grasp: a maximum of seven associations.

Actively Seek Out Inspiration

Creativity, for most people, does not happen spontaneously or instantly. It must be coaxed. So you can’t just sit around waiting for creativity to grab hold of you. The best ways to get inspiration would be to listen to music, take an entire afternoon to linger in the museum, walk through the botanical gardens, spot flowers you haven’t yet seen, or meet with a friend over drinks and get into a lively discussion.

Hang Out with Creative People

No creative person can be alone for too long. Yes, some artistic folks do prefer solace. But sometimes, being in good company can ignite a new way of thinking, a fresh approach to problems, and even better, spectacular imagination. For these things to happen, you must hang out with creative people.

Where do creative people gather? Some will be in concerts; others will be in creative events, like a film or literary festival. You could also try your local book shop or café. And sometimes, your tribe may be in your very own office.

Use Your Dead Time

Deadtime might be during your commute or lunch hour. Any period when little to no activity is necessary is dead time. But instead of simply going through the motions, heading home or to the office, or getting a meal, use it to observe and contemplate. Listen to the conversations around you. Watch what goes on. Alternately, listen to a podcast or music.

Creativity can present you with opportunities to change or improve something. Although you may have lost some of that ability as you age, it’s not too late to foster and nurture it. 

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