Because I’m naturally so creative, I often forget that for some, creativity is not the instinctual, natural process that it is for me. When I talk to others who don’t do a lot of creative stuff, they’re sometimes puzzled or amazed by how much time I devote to these activities, or how I come up with the ideas for poems, music, jewelry, web layouts, etc.
This disconnect got me thinking. Might there be a way to become creative? Is there a way to tap into creativity you never knew was there? I find it hard to believe that there are people who do not have any creativity whatsoever–when I taught in a city middle school, I was actually able to help some students find creative expression that they never knew they had, and they were energized by that.
Working off my teaching experience as well as my social experience, I think there are ways to tug out your creativity. The following two exercises might just tease out a few creative fibers in your spirit!
Exercise #1: The “Meh” Object
Have you got an object in your house that you’re kind of “meh” about? It’s okay, but it’s not exactly your style, not exactly your favorite color, etc. You may not even be sure why you don’t like it a whole lot, but it’s just kind of…there, and it doesn’t do much for you.
If you could change this object, how would you change it to make it fit your personality/style better?
In my freshman dorm room, I had the standard orangey-brown desk, dresser, wardrobe, and bed, and while the furniture was really basic, I had done pretty well with most of it. I had decorated my desk with some personal pictures, had dressed the bed with my favorite blue bedclothes, and had even hung cute little decorations on the front of the wardrobe, but the dresser was just…BLAH. It had to hold my TV and DVD player on the top, leaving no room for anything else that was purely decorative.
Finally, I found myself thinking one day, “If I could just put something on it that was navy blue, it would match everything else, at least.” Then my eyes drifted over to my desk chair, where I had a navy chenille throw with delicate fringe draped across the back of the chair. The throw always bunched into uncomfortable shapes against my back, and usually ended up in the floor anyway.
Inspiration struck, and struck hard. In a few minutes, I cleaned off and dusted the top of the dresser, and settled the narrow throw longways across the top of the dresser, letting the fringed edges dangle gracefully to either side. The previously-plain dresser was transformed, and I still had room for the TV and DVD player!
What Does This Have to Do With Creativity?
Creative people see the world around them and see how they could make it better. For example, they might dress up a plain, clear bud vase with a decorative bow affixed to the front of it; they might throw a bright, solid-colored tablecloth across a beat-up card table to make it fit for company. They might even take a bunch of wooden candlesticks of different heights and group them together, tying them together to create a fun, multileveled centerpiece for a table.
And it doesn’t have to be just decorating things, either. You can make your personal world better through arranging your desktop icons in fun shapes, fixing up your profile picture with some color or text, or rewriting your profile information to portray your sense of humor. Anything you see in your world that you wish was better, try something new to fix it up and make it better!
Exercise #2: The Room
Look around your personal space, and answer the following questions (mentally, ’cause this ain’t a test):
- How would you describe it?
- What is most special to you in this room?
- Where do you spend the most time in your room?
- What colors/lighting/fabrics are used?
- How do you feel when you’re in your personal space?
- What does this space mean to you?
Make a quick list of your answers to these questions. Now, how would you describe all of what your personal space is and what it means to someone who’s never been in your room? Would you use words, pictures, sound, gestures, etc.?
shaded dappled light filters
through old lacy curtains;
too lazy to try climbing down the wall,
it instead splays itself across the ceiling,
echoing my sprawl across the bed,
luxuriating in the fan breeze,
the cool crisp sheets under my body,
and the rare quiet of this afternoon room
This short poem I wrote describes my room as I experience it–quite simply, a haven. Each description in the poem (such as the lazy light, low breeze, crisp sheets, and rare quiet) creates an image of rest and ease, and oozes the enjoyment I have in just kicking back and relaxing in my room.
What Does This Have to Do With Creativity?
Creative people describe their world through their creations. Writing, art, music, drama–all those arts describe, celebrate, or seek to change the world they experience. My poem both describes and celebrates my room; if I was instead unhappy with my room, I would write about how all the junk on the floor and in the closet really depresses me every time I look at it. (Well, it kinda does, but that’s beside the point at the moment. LOL) I would then write about how I want to change it.
Many artists of all types make art about the things they see in the world that they want to change, or they make art celebrating the world they came from, viewing it with pride and encouraging others to take pride in it as well. Beginning with your room or your world, you can choose your favorite medium for art, and then use that art to talk about your experience. That’s definitely part of creative expression!
Being creative, and becoming creative, doesn’t just mean making a bunch of decorative “junk” or spending your days with your head in the clouds. Seeing your world for what it is–or what it could be–and describing it to others through all sorts of mediums is creative, too!