August 27, 2012

What I Know & Have Learned About "Creativity"

"Creativity" feels like a hot button word these days. Especially in the two realms I live in most: The blogging world and my college world (the ED department is big on creativity on my campus). So here's the small list of things I know about being creative.

Always Be in the Process of Creating Something. I literally go insane if I don't have some kind of creative project I'm working on. And by projects I mean ones that don't fall under the school heading and are not done on the computer, which really only leaves DIY's and crafting. But I always need to have something like that that I can pick up while I'm watching a movie or when I have an hour or two of free time in the afternoon or evening.

Create Even When You Don't Think it Matters. On occasion I find myself in this pit of not wanting to create because I don't think it matters in the long run. Laurie in the movie Little Women summarizes this feeling when in one particular scene he says, "My compositions are like your paintings; mediocre copies of another man's genius." This sentiment has resonated with me too many times than I care to admit. But then I realized that the reason I was thinking that was because I was seeing what I created in light of how others would perceive it and then compare it. That shouldn't be the point or what really matters. What matters is what we learn through the process of creating, not the end result (no matter how "brilliant" it may turn out). What matters is gleaning and forming something of our own. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, "All truly wise thoughts have been thought already, thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take firm root in our personal experience." I think the same could be said for creative outlets as well.

Write What You Want to Read. If it's boring to you while you're writing it, then in all likelihood it will be boring to whoever else will read it. Now if only this could somehow relate to papers for class.

Find Beauty and "Glory" in the Simple, Mundane, or Small Things. There's a lot to be discovered in the ordinary when we purposefully seek it out.
The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself. -Henry Miller
Do The Math. And by math I mean know what to subtract and add when using other peoples previous work. A good creator will learn how to glean from other people in such a way that while they're influenced by others, their work has their own stamp on it as well.

Get off the Computer. I love the Internet and most our modern technology, but we need to take our eyes off all the screens in order to see and truly value other types of "scenery."

Make Mistakes. They're unavoidable, so expect them, learn from them and move on. Thomas Edison didn't perfect the light bulb the first time he tried making one, nor did Frank Lloyd Wright design architecturally pleasing structures every time he sat at his drafting table.

Keep a "File" of all your ideas, other peoples ideas that you really like and admire, quotes, words you like, books you want to read, bucket lists, etc. be it kept in a journal or in a file on your computer.

Fill Up the Creative Tank... however or whatever does that for you personally. Because as hard as this is for me to fathom, for some of you, coffee isn't going to fuel your creativity tank. (I know... it's a shocker.)

Creative Thinking Favorites of Mine


  1. I also have at least one creative-just-for-me project on the go. This last weekend Jared and I actually started one together, which is rare, and so much fun! I find sometimes when I don't feel like being creative the best thing to do is dive in anyway, it sometimes results in nothing and sometimes I've gotten some of my favorite work yet!

  2. This is great advice. This is so important in the classroom and I realize my students will take ownership over a project if it involves creativity. Thanks for sharing!!!!

  3. I am a creative person but sometimes... there is just nothing inspiring to me so I usually throw up my hands and give up. Most the time though, we all go through those times and that creativity does return. :-)

  4. thanks SO much for this
    i'll be rereading this throughout the school year!

  5. I love being creative too. And I think you're super creative! I mean, just take a look at this post! It's so creatively written =).

    Natalie, I would love to write to you sometime--actual letters. If you don't mind, please share with me your address via e-mail =).



  6. OK, when your blog first came up, I thought the colored pencils were painted toes at first. hahaha

    Loved the quote from Pretty Women. Such a great movie and great advice. :)

  7. ooooh these are SO good Nat!!!

    Write what you want to read, I LOVE that,

    I have learned so so much from blogging, and one main thing i've learned and grown in is creativity. All what you are saying is so true, and see, as silly as it sounds, I didn't know I could grow creatively. I was and am so focused on growing spiritually, that that is what mattered to me. But growing creatively has been a blessing, an unexpected blessing!

    I'm gonna print this list out! Thank you:)

  8. Love this post so much! seriously girl, everything you post just makes me sit here & go "YES! I know exactly what you're talking about!" it's so relatible (is this a word??!) keep up the awesome blog!!


Thanks for leaving me your thoughts, comments, and encouragements! =) I do monitor every comment I get so that I can comment back as much as possible.

Any comments I personally deem as inappropriate or disrespectful (and any spam) will be trashed.