Practice, practice, practice!

Perhaps the biggest change that’s needed in the general mindset about creativity is that it is something that must be practiced to operate at optimum capacity.  We think of creativity as something that comes in short bursts, a ‘muse’ that travels on its own schedule, over which we have no control.  We regard ‘creative people’ as mysterious demi-gods; we’re convinced they are born with this attribute and simply have been blessed with more gifts than other mere mortals.

But the fact is, if a human can breathe, s/he can create.  It is part of every individual’s basic humanity. 

I consider creativity to be very like physical fitness.  A hundred years ago, Americans didn’t worry terrribly much about physical fitness:  our lifestyle did not require special attention to it; we still retained a general fitness resulting from an active lifestyle.  But in the mid-20th century, physical fitness became the issue it still is today.  We had to learn to practice fitness, to make room for it in our daily lives, or suffer the consequences of ill-health and discomfort.

 Likewise, we’ve evolved as a nation in our creativity.  From our earliest days all the way through the second World War, a pioneering spirit was the main characteristic of Americans.   Since then, however, we have become couch potatoes (to put it succinctly).   It’s ironic how exponential technical improvements in communications and production have led to a paralysis in individual creativity.  We’re overwhelmed by the technology, and feel dimished in its presence.  I believe, however, that this reaction is temporary.  As soon as we completely assimilate the realities of the internet age, our native creativity will once again assert itself.

The ‘creative person,’ the one we revere as uniquely blessed, seems to be so only because s/he is immersed in creative practice.  If we want a flat tummy, we do sit-ups.  If we want to nurture creativity, we have to practice it.  Absolutely anyone can learn to be creative.  And, as with physical fitness, that practice must be regularly maintained.

I appreciate the comment submitted yesterday by Jeff …. When advocating for creativity research and practice, the first obstacle we face is tremendous fear.  To the soul that has buried its creative impulses, change and challenge are terrifying.  We prefer to remain in our winter of discontent than to awaken to raw spring.  This is understandable, though not sustainable in the long run.  Those of us urging a return to creative practice do well to offer approaches that are gentle in the extreme, to ease people out of their fears with  appropriate compassion.

I’ll suggest some of these gentle practices in upcoming posts.

1 comment so far

  1. damyantig on

    “If we want a flat tummy, we do sit-ups. If we want to nurture creativity, we have to practice it. Absolutely anyone can learn to be creative. And, as with physical fitness, that practice must be regularly maintained.”

    Absolutely true.

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