Yes, you’re creative! Now what?

Mar 6, 2024 | Better Writing

You’re creative. It doesn’t matter what your mother said. It doesn’t matter what some art teacher told you. It doesn’t matter what you think. You’re creative.

Human beings are creative. That’s the way God made us. You can’t help yourself. As you go through your day, you’ll come up with idea after idea. That’s creative.

So, whether you’re creative or not is not the question. But there are two other important questions. How do you get more good ideas? How do you get the most out of your ideas?

When do you get good ideas?

Ideas are like kisses. If you want to get a kiss, you could go out on the highways and byways of the world, approach random strangers, and ask for a kiss. Or you could look for your next kiss where you got your last one. Which strategy do you think will work better? It’s the same strategy that’ll work for ideas.

Some people get their good ideas in the shower. For others it’s when they’re exercising or doing housework or cleaning the garage. Some people get their good ideas tied to a place, like a favorite chair, their screened porch, or nature. Figure out what has worked for you, then do it again. Take a shower, sit in your special idea chair, whatever works.

How it works

Back in 1926, Graham Wallas outlined the basic creative process in his book, The Art of Thought. It includes something he called “incubation.” That’s when you’re not consciously thinking about a problem or a project and ideas start popping into your head.

Since Wallas’ day, scientists have learned what’s happening there. When your brain is not focusing on anything, your Default Mode Network (DMN) takes over. In other words, you’re thinking about things even when you’re not. When your DMN generates a good idea, that idea pops into your consciousness.

Imagine you’re out walking your dog. You’re not really thinking about anything just enjoying the day, the dog, and being out in the air. Suddenly, you get an idea about how to tweak that lasagna recipe you’re going to make for company tonight.

The trick is to do something that occupies your body but leaves your mind free to roam. Showers are good for that. So is driving or walking. My favorite activity, besides walking, is eating pistachios.

How to get more out of your ideas

When you have an idea, capture it right away. Otherwise, it will flit away, and you won’t remember it even a few minutes later. You can use any device that works for you to capture ideas. It might be a notebook, index cards, or a small digital recorder. The method doesn’t matter. Capturing your ideas on the fly does.

Once you capture your ideas, do something with them. Take some time to review them. Combine ideas. Play with ideas. Make them better. Or let them lie fallow. I have a file for every active project I call the “Compost File.” Many ideas go there for a while before I use them.

Then, use them. They might enrich your writing, help you discover a new way to do something or improve a relationship. As a human being, you’ll have lots of good ideas, but they won’t have any effect until you put them to work.

Yes, you are creative. Count on generating lots of ideas. Then, capture them, improve them, and put them to work.

Sign Up For Blog Posts Via Email