What Makes us Creative?

Are you creative?

More creativity means more fun, more buzz, more laughter in life.

Scientists see creative innovation as the communication between regions of the brain that are not usually connected. A crucial ingredient of creativity is the ability to develop alternative solutions, known as ‘divergent thinking’.

How does this work? Let’s look at how the idea of writing a post about creativity occurred to me: I was watching an elegant tango dancer glide across the floor. She is an artist and had just told me that she enjoys reading my blog. Suddenly the idea of writing a post on creativity flashed into my brain. You can see in this example how my brain connected three different dots: ‘artist’, ‘writing a post’, and ‘creativity’.

Creativity is a natural state of mind.

It is not something that some people have and others lack. Children call being creative ‘playing’. It’s hard to find a child that can’t do that! I hang out a lot with two great friends, Anna and Mary, who are 11 and 12 years old. Every walk we do together ends up as a new episode of our ongoing fantasy game in which we are undercover ninjas on a secret mission. (My code name is ‘Sparkle’!)

Creativity then is not something far away and difficult to achieve. It is something natural that we need to re-discover within.

To be creative, judgment needs to be suspended.

Most people stifle their creativity because they don’t know how to shut up their internal editor. You don’t know who that person is? Let me introduce you to him or her: Take a piece of paper and write the first paragraph of what might become a novel, or start sketching out a painting. Now listen to the voice in your head. You’ll hear something like this: “That’s stupid!” or “You really suck!” or “You’re wasting your time!”

That voice is familiar, right?

Creating and editing are processes that happen in different parts of the brain. Creativity springs forth from the right side of the brain, whereas editing or analysing happens in the left side.

Take a look at this list of right- versus left-side brain functions:

LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
knowing
acknowledges
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies
practical
safe

RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
uses feeling
“big picture” oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
believes
appreciates
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
impetuous
risk taking

There is a fascinating test where you can find out whether you are thinking with the left of right side of the brain. Check it out here. Try looking at the image with different kind of thoughts. Can you make it change direction?

Now take another look at the list of right-brain and left-brain functions. Do you spend more time in the left or the right part of your brain?

From all of this you can understand how creating and editing at the same time can’t work. Because the moment you move from the right to the left side of the brain your creativity dries up.

Here are some interesting tips on creativity by cartoonist gapingvoid:

  • Ignore everybody. The more original your idea is, the less good advice people will be able to give you.
  • Put the hours in. Doing anything worthwhile takes forever.
  • You are responsible for your own experience. Nobody can tell if what you’re doing is good, meaningful or worthwhile.
  • Everyone is born creative.
  • Everyone has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.
  • Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside.
  • Passion can’t be bought.
  • Sing in your own voice.
  • The best way to get approval is not to need it.

Relevant links:

‘How to be Creative through Meditation’

Left Brain or Right Brain – I’ll Take Both

The Medici Effect

About the author

Mary Jaksch

Mary is passionate about helping people create a happy, purposeful, and fulfilling life. She is the founder of GoodlifeZEN and also the brains behind WritetoDone.com, one of the biggest blogs for writers on the Net. Mary is also a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

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