What is Creativity and How to Grow Your Creative Skills
As this New Year begins, Josie and I wanted to circle back to a conversation we had a few months ago with our Creative Tribe. We talked about what creativity is (and isn’t) and ways to cultivate the skills that support it.
Watch our chat below, or keep reading for the highlights.
No time now? Click here to pin this post for later.
To start the conversation, we asked about your fears. Specifically – the ones that hold you back from embracing your creativity.
While you might not think creativity and fear are linked, life has shown us they are constant companions. We unintentionally link them together every time we let our fears keep us from connecting to our creativity.
Move Beyond the Fear
First, let’s address our fears around creativity so we can release them and come up with a different way to think about creativity.
The most common fears we hear from creators are:
- Worry about waste – of money, materials, and time
- Fear of making something you just want to throw away
- Imperfection – making a mistake or creating something that will be judged negatively by others
- Imposter syndrome – Fear of not being good enough
What are YOUR specific fears as it relates to expressing creativity?
Take some time to identify, understand, and contemplate your own specific fears as that will allow you to move past them.
As you think about your fears, it’s essential to understand that creativity and creative skills are not the same thing.
That’s right – creativity itself is NOT skill-based. That means everyone is creative, including and especially you!
How you choose to express and grow that inherent creativity is up to you, but you can’t let fear stand in your way. We’ve discovered the best way to overcome creative fear is to focus on the process instead of the project.
The creative value is in the journey – not in how the project turns out.
Success is in the numbers
When the process (and not the project) becomes the reason why you pull out your stamps or moulds day after day, you begin to grow your skills.
Instead of being afraid to use your tools, you push yourself to practice again and again without self-judgement or expectations. This is what Josie calls, “doing the reps” and it’s the best way to grow your skills.
In our own lives, we learned early on that “success was in the numbers.” Having grown up in a “sales” family, one of Josie’s first jobs at 16 was to sell vacuum cleaners door-to-door. At the time, our Dad told her, “It’s all about the doors. You’ve got to knock on a certain number of doors to get a sale.”
This gave her the encouragement she needed to put in the work and move past her fears of all the “no’s”. It’s a lesson that applies to any learning and stretching process – like going from ‘having creativity’ to ‘having creative skills.’ You just have to keep knocking on the doors and doing the reps!
So, no matter what the skill is, be it oil painting or DIY furniture painting, don’t let yourself get caught up in how it turns out. Just repeat and do it again because the value is 100% in the process.
Embrace any mistakes you make because they provide you with the most valuable, date-rich learning experience.
Creativity versus Productivity
Don’t let guilt deprive you of finding joy in your creativity – regardless of your creative skills. Embrace wherever you are in your creative journey in the moment and reject that idea that you need to be different or ‘more.’
While the American culture puts an emphasis on productivity and efficiency, that perspective can really hinder the creative process. Focusing solely on the outcome means failure if the outcome isn’t perfect – a perspective that is laden with guilt.
Feeling the guilt, or even anticipating it, can stop you from doing the creative reps you need to build the skills. Most athletes put in hours and hours of practice to build their skills. It may look like they were born being able to perform at a high level, but it’s raw reps that produced their skills.
Knowing when to step back
Let’s be honest – any time you create something you can hit a spot where you hesitate. Maybe you’re not feeling it or you’re just uncertain about what you want to do next. The solution is to take a ‘step back.’
Stop working on the project. Set it aside but keep it somewhere in your peripheral vision. As you leave it there – maybe throughout the week or month – you will gain a fresh perspective. Ask yourself what you love about the project and what isn’t working for you, and jot down notes.
When you go back to your project after stepping back, you’ll bring fresh ideas and perspective – ready to immerse yourself in the process again.
Protect Your Creative Time
Rather than asking, “Am I creative?” embrace the knowledge that you already have a well of creativity inside of you.
The real question is how much of that creativity are you allowing yourself to express?
It’s OK to carve out time for creativity on your calendar – just like any other task. It’s important and life-giving because we’re created to be creative. Our cups get filled up by being creative! Making the time for the beautiful messy beginnings in your creative journey is essential.
Challenge yourself to take the time you put on your calendar and just start. Take your IOD products out and give yourself permission to play with them. When you focus on the process, you don’t need a specific project so really, REALLY just play.
(If you need some playful, process-focused ideas, check out this masking, casting and stamping post.)
How to Handle Creative Overwhelm
Maybe you have so many creative ideas and projects that you want to tackle that you don’t start any of them. One way to deal with that is to get in the habit of keeping a creative journal. Write all the project ideas or techniques you want to try.
Make sure to take the time to jot down as many details about your ideas as you can. When they’re fresh, it seems like you will always know exactly what you dreamed or intended to do. But trust us – someday looking back, those details will be gone!
When it’s creative time (that you marked on your calendar) don’t overthink it – just pick one thing out of your creative journal and dive in! And it doesn’t have to be getting your hands deep into art supplies.
You don’t have to create “Art” to express creativity
People tend to pigeon-hole creativity into “art,” but creativity expresses itself in so many different ways. It’s found in anything from cooking meals, to geeking out over an accounting system, to woodworking. Creativity, whether you know it or not, can influence every aspect of your life.
Over time, you may find creative joy in different ways. Be open to it and remember to enjoy the process!
What do you think creativity is?
Let us know in the comments and also we’d love to hear what helps you grow your creative skills.
- How to Stamp Curved Surfaces with IOD Stamps: Thrift Flip Lamp Edition
- DIY “Antique” Wedding Frame Plus Favors Under $5 using IOD Moulds
- Effortless DIY: Thrift Flip a Silver Tray into Romantic Table Decor
- Spring Decor DIY: Blue Willow Porcelain Easter Eggs
- Valentine’s Gift Idea: Shabby Chic Jewelry Organizer