Cultivating Your Creativity

creative flowerThe ability to live in the question long enough for genius to emerge is a touchstone of creative success. – Jonathan Fields

Think of your creativity as if it were your garden. If you want it to flourish what needs to be done? How would you tend it? What do you need to do to gets things growing? What would it look like to reap the harvest? To start the soil needs tilling, fertilizing and the seeds need to be planted and watered. You may need to read some gardening books or take a gardening class. You need to put in the time and some care.

What does this metaphor for our creativity look like in practice. To begin know that you are creative; that is a gift inherent to all human beings. Know that creativity is something you can grow. As John Updike so beautifully as “Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.” And in the words of Ken Robinson in his book Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative “When people find their medium, they discover their real creative strengths and come into their own.”

As a creativity coach, I have seen this over and over again in the workshops and individual work I do. People’s creativity is lying just below the surface just waiting for a bit of encouragement to burst to the surface, often to their surprise and delight. So to start cultivating your creativity accept that in your own unique way you are already creative and your job is to be open to what that looks like and explore the possibilities.

How can you nurture your creative self? Understand that your creative self is a tender, vulnerable authentic part of you that likely wasn’t encouraged at home or in school. She needs a safe and sacred space in which to emerge. Cultivate radical self acceptance for the part of you that is original and able to think outside the box. Entertain new ideas and possibilities. Experiment. Play. Let go of judging the new ideas, just be open and curious. Start asking questions. What are my creative gifts? What creative endeavors would bring me most alive? What do I need to do to awaken my creativity?

Practice, patience, faith and a willingness to be surprised are important elements. Once you have begun to take action there is also the element of allowing that needs to be considered. And understand that like a garden creativity moves through different phases and trying to produce a finished product in one step is usually impossible.

You start, you plant the seed and you don’t keep pulling up the seed to see if it’s growing. Know that in the fertile darkness of the subconscious that your creative ideas and project is incubating. Even when you are not consciously working on the problem that your creative mind is, so that when you return consciously to whatever you are working on, new ideas and solutions will rise to the surface. Understand that as John Cleese so eloquently said, “creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.” Consider all the ways your are already creative.

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