In this Article you will know Why Being Creative is a Process, not an Act. One of history’s most important scientists was wandering through a garden in 1666 when he experienced a moment of inspiration that would forever alter the course of human history.
Sir Isaac Newton observed an apple fall to the ground while standing beneath an apple tree. Newton questioned why the fruit should always fall perpendicular to the ground. Why shouldn’t it move above, or sideways, but always toward the centre of the earth? The earth attracts it, of course, is the explanation. Matter must possess a drawing power.
Thus, the idea of gravity was created.
One of the most famous and enduring depictions of a creative moment is the tale of the falling apple. It is a representation of the inspired genius that floods your mind during those “eureka moments” when the circumstances are ideal for inspiration.
The majority of people overlook the fact that Newton spent over twenty years developing his theories on gravity before publishing The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy in 1687. The incident with the fallen apple just marked the start of a long train of thought.
William Stukeley’s Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life
The renowned page in William Stukeley’s Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life that describes the incident with Newton’s apple.
Not only Newton struggled with a brilliant idea for years. For all of us, being creative is a process. In this essay, I’ll explain the science behind creative thinking, go over the circumstances that foster creativity and those that stifle it, and provide helpful advice for improving creativity.
Thinking Creatively: Destiny or Development?
Our ability to think creatively depends on our ability to connect seemingly unconnected thoughts. Do we acquire this skill naturally or do we have to work at it? Let’s examine the research to find a solution.
98 percent of the 1,600 five-year-olds who participated in a study on creative performance conducted in the 1960s by George Land scored in the “very creative” level. Each participant was retested by Dr. Land every five years. Only 30% of the same children scored in the extremely creative range when they were 10 years old. By the time they reached the ages of 15 and 25, just 12% and 2%, respectively, remained. The creativity was essentially trained out of the kids as they grew into adults. “Non-creative behaviour is learned,” said Dr. Land.
Other researchers have found similar patterns. For instance, a study of 272,599 pupils discovered that while IQ levels have increased since 1990, scores for innovative thinking have fallen.
This does not imply that creativity can be taught in its entirety. Genetics do have an impact. Professor of psychology Barbara Kerr claims that genes account for about 22% of the variable in creative ability. By examining the variations in creative thinking between sets of twins, this discovery was made.
All of this is to indicate that using the justification “I’m just not the creative type” is a very lame way to avoid thinking creatively. Undoubtedly, some people are more creatively inclined than others. Most of our creative thinking skills can be learned, and almost everyone is born with some level of creativity.
Let’s discuss why practising and learning has an impact on your creative output now that we are aware that creativity is a skill that can be developed.
Intelligence and Originality
What are the requirements for releasing your creative potential?
As I indicated in my post on the Threshold Theory, being incredibly creative does not necessarily correlate with being among the top 1% of intelligent people. Instead, all you need to do is be intelligent (not brilliant), work hard, intentionally practise, and complete your reps.
As long as you have a certain level of intelligence, you can produce outstanding creative work. “We discovered evidence that once the intellectual threshold is met, personality variables become more predictive for creativity,” wrote the researchers of a 2013 study.
- Theory of Threshold (Creative Thinking)
- Growth Mentality
What precisely are these “personality characteristics” that experts claim can help you think more creatively?
How you evaluate your skills internally is one of the most important factors. More specifically, whether you approach the creative process with a fixed attitude or a growing mindset greatly influences your ability to be creative.
The amazing book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck goes into great length about the distinctions between these two mindsets (audiobook).
The fundamental tenet is that when we approach things with a fixed mindset, we assume that our skills and aptitudes are constant and unchangeable. But with a growth mindset, we think that with work and practise, we can get better at what we do. Fascinatingly, the way we talk about and acknowledge our efforts can easily sway us in one direction or another.
A succinct description in Dweck’s words follows:
“The entire self-esteem movement misled us into believing that by praising our brains, talent, and abilities, we would develop our sense of self-worth and everything amazing would follow. But we’ve discovered that it backfires. People who have been recognised for their talent now worry about doing the next thing, about taking on the challenging work, and not looking talented, damaging that reputation for brilliance. Instead, they’ll remain in their familiar surroundings and become extremely defensive in the event of defeats.
So what are we to commend? The effort, the tactics, the tenacity and perseverance, the grit people exhibit, the resilience they display in the face of challenges, and their ability to bounce back when things don’t go as planned. Therefore, I believe that communicating these principles of process, giving feedback, and rewarding those who engage in the process rather than merely a good product is crucial to creating a development mindset in the workplace.— Carol Dweck
Confidence and Originality
How can the growth mentality be practically applied to creativity? It all boils down to one thing, in my opinion: being willing to engage in an activity even if it makes you seem awful.
According to Dweck, the growth mindset places more emphasis on the process than the result. Though it is simple to accept in theory, doing it in reality is very challenging. The majority of people don’t want to experience the shame or embarrassment that comes along with learning a new skill.
There are very few mistakes from which you can never fully recover. Most people, I believe, are aware of this to some extent. We are aware that it won’t endanger our life if the book we write doesn’t find a reader, if a potential partner rejects us, or if we accidentally introduce the wrong person. What disturbs us isn’t always what happens after the event. We put off starting at all because we fear making a fool of ourselves, feeling embarrassed, or dealing with shame along the way.
You must be willing to take action in the face of these emotions, which frequently discourage us, if you want to truly embrace the growth mindset and improve your creativity.
How to Increase Creativity
Here are a few doable tactics for increasing your creativity, presuming you are willing to put in the effort to face your inner anxieties and learn from failure.
Maintain restraint. One of your best tools for encouraging innovative thinking is well crafted limits. When he was given a word count restriction of 50, Dr. Seuss penned his most well-known book. When playing on a smaller field, soccer players refine their already complex skill sets. A 3-inch by 5-inch canvas can help designers make better large-scale designs. We grow more resourceful the more we constrain ourselves.
Publish more. Every Monday and every Thursday for almost three years, I added a new piece to JamesClear.com. The longer I maintained this plan, the more I came to understand that before I came up with a fantastic thought, I had to write roughly a dozen average ideas. I increased the surface area for creative inspiration by producing a lot of work.
You’re not keen on having your writing published. Even if you don’t plan to write anything to be read by other people, Julia Cameron’s morning pages exercise is a great method to use writing to boost your creativity.
enlarge your knowledge base. Forcing myself to write on a variety of themes and concepts has proven to be one of my most effective creative techniques. For instance, I have to think outside the box whether I utilise zen buddhism, vintage word processors, or 1980s basketball tactics to depict our everyday activities. You’ll succeed in psychology and life more if you increase your knowledge, as psychologist Robert Epstein once said.
Sleep more. I discussed a University of Pennsylvania study that showed the amazing influence of sleep on mental performance in my piece on how to get better sleep. The key conclusion was that sleep debt builds up over time, and if you get 6 hours a night for two weeks in a row, your mental and physical performance will suffer to the same extent as if you had remained awake for 48 hours straight. Like all cognitive processes, the ability to think creatively is substantially hampered by lack of sleep.
Enjoy the outdoors and the sun. Before and after a 4-day backpacking trip, 56 participants in one study completed a series of creative thinking tests. The travellers’ inventiveness had grown by 50% by the time the study was over, according to the researchers. This study validates the findings of prior studies that suggest increasing your exposure to sunlight and spending more time in outdoors can boost your creativity.
Adopt a cheerful outlook. Although it may sound a little too fluffy for my tastes, positive thinking can significantly enhance creative thinking. Why? According to positive psychology study, when we are happy, we tend to think more extensively. We can more easily create original links between concepts according to this theory, which is referred to as the Broaden and Build Theory. In contrast, melancholy and despair appear to promote more constrained and constrained thought.
Send it. The reality is that creativity is nothing more than laborious work. The best thing you can do is pick a speed you can maintain and consistently deliver stuff. Adhere to the method, and work on a timetable. Only via shipping does imagination become a reality.
Final Reflections on Creativity
Not an event, but a process, is creativity. Not simply a eureka moment, either. You need to overcome emotional and mental obstacles. You must make a conscious effort to practise your craft. And it takes persistence to watch your creative brilliance blossom—possibly years or even decades, like Newton did.
The suggestions in this article provide numerous methods for increasing creativity. Read Mastering Creativity, my free guide, if you’re seeking for more concrete tips on how to strengthen your creative habits.
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