Episode 15: The Creative Process
I’m LDS Life Coach, Hannah Coles and you are listening to The Confidence Catalyst Podcast Episode 15: The Creative Process
Creativity is one of THE most useful feelings we can generate for ourselves. But there’s a lot of us out there that feel that creativity just isn’t for them. There’s a huge misconception of what creativity actually is, who has it and who doesn’t. In today’s episode I uncover some common myths about creativity, what the creative process actually is, why EVERYONE is creative, and why the world needs YOUR unique contribution. Tune in. This is good!
Podcast Episode 15: The Creative Process
Hello my friends! How are you today?! It’s summer here which is fantastic because for us that means more time to read, time to create, time to explore, just a little more flexibility than the school year so we’re loving this season. In fact I just told a friend of mine that I’m kind of in the calendar schmalendar mentality. Not really, we still have our goals and the things that we’ve blocked off but our time is a little more lenient right now and I love it. So one thing that I look forward to for summer is the time I’ll have to create. I love being creative. It’s one of the feelings that I deliberately choose on a daily basis. And when I’m utilizing this creativity I find that I’m energized, that this act actually creates more energy for me.
You know what I mean? There are some activities or even some people we talk to where we just feel tired afterwards. Your energy was depleted. But then there are things that you love to do where afterwards it could be super late but you’re still feeling strong, right? That’s me with creativity and with a full schedule and four kids that’s a really good thing to know how to cultivate.
So I want to talk about creativity today. This is such a big topic and obviously one I’m really passionate about so I’m going to have more podcasts dedicated to this but we’ll take it in smaller sized chucks.
What’s interesting though is creativity is something that a lot of people don’t resonate with because they associate it with being artistic. How many times have you heard someone (maybe it’s yourself) that’s said, “I’m just not very creative?” Or “I’m not really the creative type”? Several people think this, in fact, I just read of a study done for NASA where they gave this creativity test to children ages 3-5, to 10 year olds, and then to adults. Here’s what they discovered:
The 3-5 year olds scored 98% on this creativity test.
10 year olds went plummeting down to just 30%.
And by adulthood a staggering 2%.
What happened? Why don’t more people think of themselves as creative?
I think the most common misconceptions that people tend to have when it comes to creativity is that it’s a trait that you’re either born with or not. That only certain people are creative. That creativity is merely saved for those with artist talents and that it can’t really be taught. There are those that are the creative types and those that are more analytical. But I’ll tell you what, it’s WAY MORE than just being able to be artistic in the art world. If you can’t paint, draw, sculpt, or other (and I’m with you on all of those accounts) it doesn’t mean that you’re not creative.
This is a misconception because these thoughts and ideas couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Creativity is our divine birthright.
I love how Dieter F. Uchtdorf talks about this. He says:
“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.
Everyone can create…Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty. . .
You might say, “I’m not the creative type. . . .”
If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit [children] of the most creative Being in the universe…But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy. Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things. . . .
You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us. The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano.
Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before. . . .
What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. . . . Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.. . As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.”
Bringing something new into existence
Right? I told you. So good! “Creation, bringing into existence something that did not exist before” And then I want to add to this. Creativity without a plan of action is just imagination.
What is the Creative Process?
The Creative process has three facets to it: First, curiosity – there has to be some spark, some need, something that made you think, hmm…I wonder…
Then second, imagination– the ability to think of something new – going beyond what’s already present and taking it to a new level. Then third, innovation – a call to action, the purpose for which you’re creating.
I love using creativity daily. I have four kids with four very dynamic and different personalities. I also homeschool them and each one learns and thrives in different ways so I’m constantly creating creativity when I parent and teach them and I invite them to utilize their own creativity.
Rule Of Three
We love the rule of three – which is just when I or my kids have a problem we have to come up with three possible solutions. When my kids come to tattle on their sibling and they’re tattling because they want ME to fix it. But instead we just say, what are three solutions. I always love when they tell me three things the other person needs to do – THEY could stop bothering me. THEY could stop whatever. So then I ask again, okay, they could do those but now what are three more solutions that don’t change the circumstance. Then it’s not as fun but there’s possibility. There’s chance for a real solution.
For example, if my kids aren’t doing their chores like I’ve asked them to. I now have a problem. How can I get them to do what I’ve asked them to do? Notice, that question generated curiosity. Which now leads to imagination – well, I could try and make a chore chart, we could try incentives, we could try different consequences. We could try partnering and helping them. And then just let your mind think and spin off of those possible solutions and as you think of them you’re creating a mental idea in your mind too – seeing it play out if that will work or not. Then you find one, innovation, okay, I think I like this idea. Let’s try it and then you bring something into creation which wasn’t there before for you or your family.
This is creation. This is the creative process. This is how ideas come into fruition.
Notice, It had nothing to do with art in the general sense that we think of of art. But it you expand your definition of art – then parenting for sure is an art, relationships are an art form in fact, Van Gogh said, I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” So we can expand our limited definition of art to relationships, problem solving – I think mathematicians, scientists, doctors are artists and creatives in their own way. Each of us are.
Marc Runco once said, “I believe creativity occurs when an individual creates a new understanding…They invent new meaning…Creative acts can be anything from cooking or getting dressed to using language and adjusting to day-to-day struggles.”
We are creative.
It’s in the very core of our being. Okay, so what happens to us as we get older? Time to get back to those statistics. When we’re young we’re so creative and open and we believe that anything can happen. You can take a kid outside and their mind is just racing with ideas, imagination, possibilities. When we lived in Puerto Rico we lived on the ninth floor of a beautiful condo. But the balcony was terrifying as my daughter was just 4 or 5 at the time. We were so scared that she’d fall or get to close and slip so we tried talking to her about it and no matter what we said she always had a solution. A bird would catch her. She’d just jump on one of those cars WAY down there. Jesus would save her – and while I couldn’t argue with that one we weren’t about to test any of those theories so we just bolted that door shut at all times. But in milliseconds she had creative ideas.
Kids are amazing at that. They love being imaginative and dreaming. They don’t register failure yet or even failure as failure. It’s not a “bad” thing. But as we get older that belief, that imagination, that creativity in us gets diminished and blocked and here’s a few reasons why this happens.
The first is social conditioning and culture. If you remember, between the ages of 5-10 there’s about a 70% drop in creativity. Which is also the age when we start school and we learn rules, regulations, and how to do things and certainly how NOT to do things. We start getting told how we need to do things, how we need to think, write, how to solve problems, and how to follow orders and instructions.
No you can’t do it THAT way, you need to do it THIS way and we develop this idea and belief that there is a specific RIGHT way to do things. There’s a right way answer that math problem. There’s a “right” way to hold your pencil. There’s a right way to do that art project and we become so fixated on the right way that we stop thinking about other ways to do it we just want to do it right and get the approval from the teacher.
A mind of her own
When my oldest was just, I don’t know, 8 maybe we went with a group of her friends to a local scrapbooking store where they were teaching them how to make these cute little friendship journals and the instructor had examples of how each page was supposed to look like and she’d walk them through page by page and say glue this here and put that there and my daughter was having no part of it.
She just went to town glueing and pasting and putting things in every which way and I remember like cringing because in my mind at that time she was doing it “wrong”. It didn’t look like the example. But she was having the best time. She LOVED her album. Everyone knew which one was hers because it looked different than the rest.
Creativity being blocked
And now I look back and see that even I was trying to stifle an opportunity for her to utilize her creativity and imagination. And I think this is how creativity starts to become blocked. Not by any malicious means, it’s just the idea that there has to be a right way to do certain things and if you’re not doing it right then you must be doing it wrong. Wrong is bad, failing is bad. So we try really hard to do it right and there’s no need to curiosity, imagination or innovation if you’re just trying to copy and replicate the believed right way. So innovating and creating is replaced with replicating and copying.
And truly, there isn’t just one way to get from point a to point b but when we believe there is we get caught up in having to do it right. We don’t want to fail or think we’re doing it wrong and we become afraid to fail. Afraid of what that’ll mean about us if we do fail. We’re even afraid to let our kids or our students fail. And if you heard last week’s podcast episode failure isn’t the problem. The problem is what you make failure mean. But failure leads to learning, real cognitive connections and experiences and of course, new growth. If we could get passed the notion and idea that failure is bad, we’d probably encourage more creativity, imagination, and innovation.
Maybe your way IS BETTER
If we’re always copying and trying to find the one right way that someone else has done and succeeded with – we’re missing our own way, our own creative way to solve for that obstacle and maybe your way is a better way. I was just listening to a book where they spotlighted several inventions that people just didn’t think were worthy or worthwhile innovations at the time they were invented and thus it was received with a lot of criticism.
Like, The airplane – After the Wright brothers successfully invented a working aircraft, a French general and Commander during World War I, said, “Airplanes are interesting scientific toys, but they are of no military value.”
Or the telephone, it was criticized as being, “hardly more than a toy”
Or personal computers, received by critics as “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home”
I laugh at these especially the computer because if they only knew that we walk around with computers in our pockets now, what would they think?
The each used the creative process
Each person had an idea. They had a problem they needed a solution to – thus creating curiosity which lead to imagining different solutions, possibilities, and then to innovation – the result of this endeavor – trying something new. Establishing the creative process and bringing new things into being that we rely heavily on today. Remember, curiosity, imagination, and innovation is the creative process.
Why can’t just copy
We can’t just copy what’s worked in the past and stay there – if we did that we’d still be living in caves. We need to move beyond the scarcity mindset that there’s only one RIGHT way for it to work. We have to allow ourselves the grace and room to be open to the creative process – curiosity, imagination, and innovation.
Another big reason we lose or weaken our creativity is by not using it. We let it atrophy and then when it’s so weak we start believing that we’re just not creative anymore. And the more we say and believe that thought the more it becomes engrained and habitual. We don’t even attempt to be creative because in our minds we’ve solidified that we’re just not creative. Let someone else figure it out. Let me just google it. And we stop using our creativity.
James Altchur talks a lot about this. He calls it your “idea muscle” – he compares it to your body and if you didn’t use your legs for just two weeks you would actually need to go to physical therapy because your legs would have already atrophied. They wouldn’t be able to bear weight anymore without physical therapy. Just two weeks, crazy right? So if you’re not using your mind in a creative capacity, you’re letting it atrophy, get weaker, and then lose all strength. And for how long? People go on for years thinking and believing they’re just not creative and the more they hold tight to this belief the weaker it gets.
So if your legs lose all strength in just two weeks, what happens to our minds and our creativity levels if we don’t utilize them or strengthen them for years?
What can I do?
All is not lost. I promise, you ARE creative. You have the innate capacity to create. You just need some strengthening exercises to get you back up and innovating again. So one thing Altucher suggests is to think – I know, super novel. But not just think, make lists. Not just shopping lists but idea lists. Writing down ten new things a day. Ten new things on a particular problem or concept or idea.
I’ve absolutely adopted this practice and I can tell you it’s amazing what happens when you start. I always carry a note book with me and I have an app on my phone just for my ideas and my lists. Each day I just allow myself to think about what’s going on, what I might need to find ideas or solutions for and I just start writing.
Ask great questions
I start with the problem – this could be anything. But you’ll want to start by asking yourself great questions. I shared this file a while back. I’ll add it to the show notes if you want help in finding some really great questions to ask yourself but really, we’re always trying to solve problems.
How can I get my kids to do their chores?
What can I do to connect more with my family members?
How can I lose ten pounds before my vacation?
What should we eat for dinner this week?
How can I find fast meals that don’t require much preparation that my family will actually eat? This is one I need to start. I’m not big on cooking.
One question that I asked myself was, What topics do I want to cover on my podcast?
Then I just let myself write. I wrote until I couldn’t think anymore in that one sitting then I just let the list stay open. I think that day I wrote out about 50 topics. Then I was sitting listening to President Nelson speak a while back and I felt this surge of inspiration and as the meeting progressed I just wrote out everything that came to mind and by the end of that devotional I had an additional 200 topics. This list never closes. I just keep adding and adding and adding. The longer you allow yourself to sit on a topic the more ideas seem to come. Your brain is amazing. It WANTS a problem to solve so if you give it a deliberate and intentional problem it’ll keep that door open and thinking and allowing for personal revelation.
Keep the list open
Sometimes the ideas don’t come right away but the longer we allow ourselves to sit with it the more possibilities unfold. But you have to give yourself time to think. Time where you’re not always entertained or operating from auto-pilot. You have to generate curiosity which means you have to think a thought that creates that for you – you have to ask yourself a question first or have a problem that needs to be solved.
The world needs YOUR creative ideas.
But we won’t get that if you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to strengthen, develop, and cultivate your creativity in the creative process.
We have an enormous capacity and potential for creativity. It isn’t something that some people have and others don’t. We’re all creative beings. Some might just be a little more practiced at strengthening their idea muscle than others. We need to allow ourselves to dream again, to be imaginative, to be open to many possibilities and solutions. We also need to reframe our definition of failure.
Failing is NOT bad
Failing, trying something that doesn’t work out is inevitable. It’s part of it, it’s a huge part of it actually and this is why so many people stop dreaming. They stop imagining. They want something that’s safe and easy and proven – but the problem with ALWAYS taking this route is that nothing new is ever created then.
Let your light shine
I loved Sharon Eubanks example in her talk, Let your Light Shine back in 2018 – where she talked about a couple that was stuck in a ripcord out in the ocean and couldn’t make it back to the shore. There were many people on the shore watching in horror and helplessness as this couple struggled because they didn’t know how to help them. Until this one woman had an idea. Notice, she knew that there was a problem – she thought, “How can we help them? How can we get them back to land safely?” – this generated curiosity. Then curiosity lead to action – brainstorming, thinking, strengthening her idea muscle – which lead to the outcome, the result, “I have an idea”. She suggested they all make a “human chain” and reach out and bring them in that way. It worked. She was able to successfully help this couple in need in a way that no one else had thought of.
I don’t think that would have been my first idea too. I would have thought, who has a boat, where’s the coast guard? But those solutions – those tried and true solutions weren’t an option at this critical moment. That couple needed HER. They needed her idea, her imagination, her innovation and because she utilized this creative process she was able to find a way to save them.
Believe new things
When you adopt a new belief that, “It’s possible that maybe I am creative after all” you open yourself up to the creative process. Curiosity, Imagination, and Innovation.
Curiosity – What’s the problem? Imagination – Here’s several possibilities – then Innovation – Okay, let’s try this
This creative process can work in every aspect of your life. When you strengthen your idea muscle and practice being imaginative you’re never stuck.
You never have to feel stuck again
Think about that. So many of us feel stuck at times. We feel stuck in relationships, stuck at work, stuck with kids and home life and things being the same and not changing, we feel stuck in our finances and thinking things will always be hard or tough but the more you practice your creativity the more you realize, you’re never stuck. If this isn’t working, let’s try something else. What else? Oh here, let’s look through the endless possibilities.
So start with lists. Make a list of your projects. Put down your phone for a few minutes and just let yourself think. Write at least 10 ideas. James suggests writing as many as you can and then pushing yourself to write four more. Either way, just let yourself start thinking, strengthening curiosity, allowing yourself to imagine, and then letting yourself try it out – that innovation.
Don’t let the critics stop you
Don’t stop because of naysayers. If we listened to the naysayers we wouldn’t have cars, airplanes, telephones, computers, Rachmaninoff’s second piano concert or anything after that really. They don’t understand and it’s okay that they don’t understand. They’re not supposed to yet. It’s YOUR idea, not theirs. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It just means that it’s yours. You need to be the one to bring it into fruition.
Creativity is so much more than the limited definition we’ve grown accustom to. It’s part of why we’re here and it is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.
Joys and glories of creation
Let me share this quote by Thomas S. Monson that I just love so much. He said:
“God left us the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity in the cloud, the oil in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of unfinished things. He leaves the pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved, that man might know the joys and glories of creation.”
You are creative. You have unlimited capacity for growth. The world needs your mind, your ideas, your imagination, your creativity.
Curiosity, Imagination, Innovation
Remember the process: It starts with a thought – a question, a task, a problem to solve, and idea of how to make something better, how to find a solution. This generates curiosity which leads to imagination – actively and on purpose finding possibilities, solutions, ideas to try on, which leads to innovation- a call to action, something to try. This is the creative process.
Strengthen your capacity to create so that you may know the joys and glories of creation.
Okay, everyone have a fantastic week. Please don’t forget to leave a review in iTunes for me. I’d so appreciate it! Those reviews really do matter and I love and read each one. You guys are awesome! See you next week!
great-questions1 – LDS Life Coach Hannah Coles
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