Self Development
Nurturing Creativity in 2 Steps

by Dennis Bradford
Nurturing creativity regularly is a valuable tactic. The reason is that we regularly get in our own way. How? We tend to fixate too much on what we think, which inhibits our natural creativity.
Are you curious about why nurturing creativity is valuable?
 
After all, we inhabit the dynamic domain of becoming rather than the static domain of being. Since we confront incessant flux, we must respond to its challenges in original ways. Therefore, it would seem that we do not require creativity training for the simple reason that it is natural for us to be creative.
 
The reason nurturing creativity regularly is valuable is because we regularly get in our own way. How? We tend to fixate so much on what we think that we inhibit our natural creativity.
 
Think of learning any new skill. Think of learning how to type, how to ice skate, how to dance, how to deliver public talks, learning a martial art, or anything similar. Now think of the difference between a beginner and a master. A beginner is slavishly thinking about follow the rules, whereas a master responds appropriately to changing circumstances. It is when the learning goes from being explicit to being implicit that creativity begins to flourish. It is when we stop thinking consciously about what we are doing or trying to do and permit ourselves to react more intuitively that we become more creative.
 
So nurturing creativity involves a two-step process.
 
First, learn the fundamentals. Figure out what to do and how to do it. Emulate a master. If possible, get some teaching or even personal coaching to ensure that you develop good habits.
 
If you permit yourself to fall into bad habits initially, you will have to unlearn them in order to replace them with good habits. Start well.
 
Ed Foreman: "Good habits are hard to form, but easy to live with; bad habits are easy to form but hard to live with."
Second, once you know how to practice the new skill properly, practice regularly and persistently. 'Regularly' means 'daily' or 'nearly daily.' If you are not spending at least an hour or two hours every day, or nearly every day, practicing, you are not demonstrating the kind of wholehearted commitment required for really nurturing creativity. 'Persistently' means that you must keep practicing, day after day, year after year, if you intend to master any valuable skill.
 
Regular and persistent practice will enable your learning to go from being explicit to implicit. That is nurturing creativity; it is the best creativity training.
 
Here are two tips for quickening this process of creativity development. Both involve emptying your mind. If you are serious about nurturing creativity, I strongly recommend either or both.
  1. The best accompaniment to any creativity training is a breathing (spiritual) practice such as zazen meditation. I offer free instruction about that elsewhere online.
  2. A wonderful accompaniment for nurturing creativity with respect to any kind of skill is "morning pages." I got this technique from THE ARTIST'S WAY by Julia Cameron with Mark Bryan.
It is a very simple practice that does not require much time. However, there is a catch: you must do it first thing each morning for at least 90 days. If you will commit yourself to doing it without fail the beginning of each day for three months, I would be shocked to learn that you failed to achieve significant results in terms of your creativity training.
 
Here is the practice: Each morning write three, single-spaced pages of longhand writing that is strictly stream of consciousness. That is all there is to it!
 
Use a spiral notebook or binder with loose-leaf pages. Each morning when you are finished, do not review them; simply put them aside for at least a couple of months. Do not show them to others.
 
What should you write about? Anything at all! It makes no difference. Take whatever pops into your mind and write it down. It's a way of unblocking your thoughts rather than getting stuck on them. Much of what you write may be about petty, inconsequential, daily junk; it may be even whiny or angry or bitter. It may be hopeful or even delusional! It does not matter. Just keep writing until you have filled up the three pages. Any topic is acceptable.
 
It is good to be skeptical about tips like these, but please avoid being negative. Test these recommendations for yourself. In terms of nurturing your creativity, you will be very glad that you did. 
Dennis E. Bradford, Ph.D., has been pursuing wisdom as a philosopher for 45 years and helping people think more clearly and live better for 32 years. If you may be interested in more about any of the six kinds of well-being, visit his blog http://dennis-bradford.com/ and simply select the category of your choice.
 
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