Improve Creativity by Changing Your Thinking

Creativity is one of our most powerful tools as an artist. It’s what separates someone with just skill from someone who is truly an artist. Creativity is not something you are born with. Well, let me change that statement. It is something that we are born with, but it deteriorates overtime. (More on this in a moment) And if we don’t use it, we lose it.

Creativity is like a muscle. The more it is worked, the stronger it gets. This is great news, because it doesn’t matter how uncreative you feel, you can become more creative. This is because our brains are capable of change and we can control this change. For brain scientists, this is called “Neuroplasticity”. There are steps that you can take or exercises that you can do to become more creative. Just like working a muscle, growth happens when you exercise. By exercising your creativity, you will become more creative. The more creative that you become, the better you become at creating art, problem solving, and generating ideas.

But, the benefits don’t end at creating art.

Creativity is Important

Creativity is not just vital to success for artists, but it’s incredibly important in other professions as well. Throughout history, the most successful people, no matter their profession, have been the most creative. Just look at a list of the most successful people in history for proof. You’ll notice that every single person has “fixed” or created a solution for some kind of problem. Notice the keyword in that last sentence – “created”. Creative people create.

Not Every Artist is “Creative”

It is a misnomer that if you can draw or paint well, then you are creative. Although, we do often find a connection. Why is this when drawing and painting are skills and creativity is a “state of mind”? In my opinion, the reason is because drawing and painting are skills of problem solving, which require creativity. When we exercise and grow our creativity, we are able to find the path to a “creative state of mind” easier. People who frequently draw or paint are constantly working their “creative muscle” (if you will), making it stronger and stronger.

For those of us that don’t exercise our creativity, there seem to be roadblocks in place that prevent us from reaching that state of mind. For some of us, there seem to be limitations on solutions that we can offer. Our creativity seems to have limits.

Let me show what I mean with this creativity enhancing exercise.

Exercises for Improving Creativity

I have created 4 drawings below. These drawings do not represent anything from reality. They are simply random drawings. In fact, there is a name for them. These drawings are called “droodles”. The goal in this exercise is to look at the drawings and come up with as many solutions as possible for what these drawings could be. In other words, what do you think these drawings represent? Take 2 minutes for each drawing and list all of the solutions that you come with.

Creativity Game - Droodle1

Droodle 1

Enhance Creativity - Droodle 2

Droodle 2

Become Creative - Droodle 3

Droodle 3

Droodle 4

Droodle 4

So, how many did you come up for each “droodle”? If you are an adult, I bet not too many. In fact, research suggests that most adults, even the creative ones, struggle to come up with more than 2 or 3 solutions for each of these drawings.

Now, show these images to a child and have them come up with ideas for each drawing.

You may be surprised to find that children will come up with many more solutions than the average adult.

Does this mean that children are more creative than adults?

Well, yes and no. Children are not necessarily more creative than adults, they just are more apt to find the path to the “creative state of mind”. It’s easy for them. In fact, a lot easier.

In this exercise, adults reason with the images that they see, and remove possibilities, limiting the solutions that are “possible”. This is why adults are limited in their responses. They simply have “ruled everything out”. Children however, look for possibilities in the drawings instead of limitations. They include every possibility, even the ones that us adults think are not possible.

So how do we become more creative? How do we train our brains to find the path to that “creative state of mind”? The answer should be obvious by now.

To be more creative, we need to learn to think like children. This obviously requires some practice, so let’s practice.

Take a look at the 4 drawings above again for 2 minutes each. But this time, think like a child. Offer every possibility that comes to mind, no matter how “impossible” it seems. Don’t attempt to reason with your responses, just go with them.

How many were you able to come up with this time? Was it more than before? Was it easier this time?

Creativity is a muscle. You have to use it, or you will lose it. In order to exercise our “creative muscle”, we need to look at solutions as a child would. We need to embrace possibilities and not create limitations for ourselves.

Now, go get creative.

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About Matt Fussell

Matt is an artist, illustrator, and teacher. He loves sharing his passion for art with others and teaching students. TheVirtualInstructor.com allows him to share his passions with people from all walks of life all over the globe.

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