“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
Sylvia Plath (American Poet)
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
Ray Bradbury (American Author)
“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”
Erich Fromm (German Psychologist)
I am the least creative person I know.
That’s what I used to believe.
I really believed it.
I had tried writing a book when I was younger, but quit because I thought it was garbage.
(Seriously — I felt embarrassed by how bad the writing was.)
After finishing the fifth chapter, I literally trashed the entire document.
Immediately, my sense of embarrassment went away.
Years later, I tried writing my first blog article.
I hated every minute of it.
Every sentence was a disaster.
I was embarrassed, even though no one had ever seen it.
As a result, I never published it.
This happened over and over again with every creative pursuit I had: from YouTube videos to online teaching programs.
Eventually, I figured out that my internal editor — my internal critic — was destroying my creativity.
It wasn’t until I learned how to quiet my critic that my creativity increased and I was able to make creative changes in my life and create an innovative business that changed my life.
What Is Creativity And How To Be More Creative
If you want to be more successful in life, whether that means starting your own business, building up your platform or network, or just working on a personal project, you’re going to have to be more creative.
Anyone can come up with a promising idea, but it’s the creativity that takes that idea and develops it further.
You’re going to have to create more creative content.
Beyond the idea and the content, you’re going to have to be continually focused on creative solutions.
Being creative is not a one-time thing in pre-planning and idea generation.
Creativity will stimulate change in your life in any area you direct it to solve problems, navigate through challenges, plan transitions, and advance your personal and professional goals.
Writing yourself off as not being the “creative type” is a defeatist lie that will hold you back in all areas of your life.
The same is true in business.
Additionally, in business, focusing on analytics and metrics alone will keep you stuck and make you boring (seriously, no one wants to listen to your metrics — yawn).
Creativity sparks up interest and excitement.
Creativity is a catalyst that is contagious — it can take your life and business to the next level.
There’s No Such Thing As A “Creative Type”
The Center for Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship published a case study that evaluated the need for ongoing creativity in entrepreneurship, stating…
“…converting a promising idea into a workable and attractive opportunity requires an on-going creative process working hand-in-hand with focused analysis, experimentation, and sometimes even launching the initial stages of a venture.”
You can’t get away from the creative process and rely exclusively on analytics — creativity is the driving force for new business and new patterns in your life.
In other words, creativity and logic are separate but can work together sequentially to achieve an actionable result.
The creative process is an essential element to every new project or goal in your life but is not limited to types, personalities, or magical creativity potions.
In fact, studies on creativity reviewed in the Creativity Research Journal yield some surprising results…
— During stages of creativity, the entire brain is active, not necessarily one hemisphere over another, and includes up to 20 different parts of the brain at one time, depending on the activity.
— Creativity is not limited to a dedicated zone of concentration, or process of discipline or personality type, as the brain is creative during everyday tasks and throughout a variety of cognitive abilities.
— Mind wandering or “incubation” is present in everyone 15-50% of the time, regardless of what task we’re engaged in, and is correlated with higher creativity. (Removing yourself from a task and allowing your mind to wander can actually improve your creativity.)
Overall, these studies show that creativity involves “mental moments [that] occur over a long period of time, where the mind’s processing is interspersed with solitary interactions with external representations, and social interactions”.
Here’s the key — creativity is a process (a process that can be improved).
The example of a writer that has a novel stream of thought, writes it out in a creative burst, and then returns to edit, refine, and publish it, is a prime illustration of creativity at work.
Another marker of creativity, according to a study out of Tufts University, lies in those who are “buying low and selling high” — in other words, people who are looking at unpopular or novel ideas that present challenge which drive creativity up until they move on to the next area of resistance.
Creativity is maximized by rejecting old knowledge of limiting beliefs.
These limiting beliefs are often brought into our personality through social conditioning and a desire to follow others.
Learning how to maximize our own creativity and using challenge and resistance as fuel, rather than backing down from new, unconventional thinking and approaches, is a mindset that will increase your ability to be more creative in your life.
3 Steps To Increasing Your Creativity
Creativity is tricky.
It’s tricky because you are your biggest obstacle when it comes to being creative.
The most important (and difficult) lesson to learn about being creative is how to keep your internal editor turned off.
If you’ve created anything in the past, you’ve probably noticed a little voice in your head nagging you during the creation process.
This voice probably said things like, “this is total crap” or “everyone will hate this” or “you’re like a creative person’s untalented evil twin.”
Look, everyone who creates anything has this internal editor.
Without this editor, you wouldn’t be able to be creative.
Your internal editor holds you to a higher standard and helps you find and correct mistakes.
But, you must control your internal editor.
You must only turn your editor on AFTER you’re done with the first draft or the first version of whatever you’re making.
The fastest way to being more creative is to separate your creative state from your more logical internal editor state.
Here are 3 steps to being more creative…
1. Turn off your internal editor completely.
First, you need to step into what is called the purely creative phase.
During this phase, you should create, fabricate, or make whatever you want with reckless abandon.
Daydream, let your mind wander, and find a flow state that is uncensored and unrestricted.
Draft, design, write, build as if no one will ever see the finished product.
Step into your freest, most creative self and let it rip.
This could mean that you turn into a lighter, more casual version of yourself, or an angrier version, or a more playful version, or a more sarcastic, enlightened, crass, or excited version of yourself.
Do what comes naturally and just let it pour out.
Do NOT edit as you go.
Do NOT cross it off or scribble it out or crumple it up for garbage can basketball.
Be free, as though you are an unrestrained alter ego of manic creativity that trusts the genius of your own inner artist.
Don’t overthink it (overthinking sabotages creativity).
Allow your brain to light up and engage in a different state without censoring the content or judging the process.
Remember, if you allow the more rational parts of your mind to start taking control and editing your thoughts, your creativity will begin to shut down.
2. Gently leverage your internal editor.
Come back to what you created and lightly edit it.
Or lightly review and adjust it.
This is called the realistic phase and it’s where you turn your internal editor back on, but just slightly.
You don’t want to slash and burn everything you’ve created here.
Not just yet.
The goal here is to improve and correct the broad strokes of what you’ve created.
Make what you’ve created logical or feasible in the real world.
Bring in your rational mind, your analytics, but don’t let it get out of control and obliterate the creative part.
Your goal is to leverage both the creative and analytical parts of your brain together.
Think of it as introducing your free-spirited 8-year-old brain to your adult brain.
Find a middle ground between the two.
Use this stage to shuffle things around and adjust the sequence of your ideas and work.
Play with your content during this phase and piece things together in a way that feels like a better fit.
Do this in stages, even in different blocks of time so you can transition from one flow state into another.
In other words, step into your purely creative phase first, take a long break, and then step into this realistic phase next.
3. Ruthlessly evaluate your ideas and work.
The third and final step is to critically rip apart what you created.
This is called the critical phase and the goal is to ruthlessly cut the fat out of what you’ve created.
After you’ve stepped away from what you’ve created so far, bring heavy doses of realism and logic back in.
Weigh your content against your purpose and goals.
Get rid of the implausible, the grossly illogical, and the ridiculous.
Be ruthless, but fair.
Be strategic (as you should be with everything).
Remove anything that steals from the focus you began with.
Get critical with the flow, tone, and voice of what you’ve created.
Get critical with the logic and the legacy of what you’ve created — does it solve the original problem?
Does it advance you towards your personal goals?
Does it tie in with the theme of your platform and purpose?
Don’t allow imposter syndrome to sabotage your editing here — it’s not personal, it’s business.
Realize that it’s harder to create than to edit.
But it’s also easier to edit someone else’s creation than your own.
Consider getting some perspective from others that are successful in this by asking for objective feedback.
Depersonalize this stage so you don’t lose the best of what you create with frustration in the process.
Whether it’s your first book, first blog article, first video blog, first webinar, first product, first business plan, a new life goal, or whatever, you need to get serious and tighten up every aspect of it, but again, only after you’ve gone through the first two phases.
Anyone can be more creative in their life. It doesn’t take a special personality type to access creative states. You can start training yourself to be more creative in your personal and professional life. Turning off your internal editor and the critic that sabotages your efforts to move toward goals is the hardest part of increasing your creativity. By following the above 3 phases of the creative process, you will harness your creative energy and achieve progress in your life and business pursuits.
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