Creativity -- that special glitter dust that creates both beautiful works and imaginative solutions to problems. We'd all like to have some, but not everyone can be a famous artist or rock goddess. Some of us are just the simple, straightforward thinking type. Still, it would be nice to have a just a little creative flair, right?
And you can, says Heather Kent, production manager of Humber College's Theatre Production Department. "We often forget about creativity with a little c," says Kent. "You don't have to be Mozart or Einstein. Creativity can just be about the day-to-day stuff that makes life better."
Think back to when you were a kid, to a time when an indoor fern became the perfect Barbie jungle and when the linen closet could provide endless hours of "let's pretend" fun. You can get that effortless childlike creativity back, says Kent. To help you get there, we asked her for some tips on unleashing your inner creativity.
1. Read all about it
As with any new skill or strategy you're attempting to adopt, it's best to do a bit of research. Kent recommends reading up on the topic of creativity to help figure out your own creative strengths. Her picks: The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp and Understanding Creativity by John S. Dacey.
2. Find your own strength
"Everybody has creativity in a different way," Kent says. "The trick is to figure out what your strength is. There are so many different ways of expressing ourselves." Are you a visual person, a writer or someone who needs to hear things to understand them? Find a comfortable way of expressing yourself by clocking your reactions to different situations.
3. Create a positive environment
While creativity can be learned in any environment, Kent says, it pays to create a space that helps get your juices flowing. Put up a whiteboard for scribbling down ideas or leave the windows drape-free to glean inspiration from the outside. "Creativity is a reaction with your environment," she says. Put some thought into an environment that helps rev your imagination.
4. Have fun
"It has to be fun," Kent says. "Whimsy and wonder are important. Keeping things light makes it easier for people to look at them." No matter how big the problem you're trying to solve, don't forget to be silly. Unless you are actually performing brain surgery (not the time to get creative), it isn't as serious as you think. Lighten up.
5. Make it a team effort
You know what they say: two heads -- or more -- are better than one. Pool the talents of friends, coworkers and family. "Collaborate with other people," says Kent. "Bouncing ideas off each other helps the creative process."
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6. Mix it up
Step out of your comfort zone. "Do something different once a week," suggests Kent. "Think about it and learn from it." It doesn't have to be life-changing. It can be as simple as taking the bus to work instead of driving. What different things do you see? What does it make you think about?
7. Appreciate the process
"It takes a long time to develop creativity," says Kent. "You're not going to walk out of a session with the beginnings of a great novel. It's important to think about -- and learn from -- the process, not just the finished product."
8. Take a risk
If you have a tried-and-true way of doing things, try doing the opposite. "Colour outside the lines," says Kent. "See things differently. Speak up for a great idea, yours or someone else's." Not doing the safe thing could shock you into a different, more creative approach.
9. Don't fear rejection
Not every idea is going to be a great one, so the ability to laugh at ourselves is important. "Weave humour into everything you do," Kent says. "When you throw an idea out there, you risk rejection. If you take yourself less seriously, the fear of rejection lessens."
10. Reuse ideas
"All the ideas are already out there," Kent says. "It's not about coming up with something completely new. It's reinterpreting those ideas, and collaging them together." Something as simple as using a plastic trash can to hold the plastic grocery bags that are crammed under your kitchen sink -- that's creative.
You might not create a masterpiece for the ages, but by taking a risk here and there, while including time for fun, we foster creativity in our everyday lives.
"As we grow up, we become more structured, more a part of 'the system,'" Kent says. "We ask, 'What do you want me to do?' and 'What's the right answer?'" Finding ways back to the uninhibited creativity of our childhood is important to us as adults. "We can live happier, healthier lives through creativity."
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