Better Writing: Creativity is a Doing Discipline

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There’s a dangerous myth going around. It says some people are creative and the rest of us are not. It says creativity is a magical gift you can’t improve on. Wrong and wrong again!

Human Beings Are Creative

Getting good ideas is the core activity of creativity. The good news is that every human being with a brain gets ideas. You can’t help it. You’ll get ideas whether or not you want to.

The challenge is to get more and better ideas and to turn them into something useful. The good news is that you can develop the skills you need.

The Three Practices of Creativity

You can’t help getting ideas, but you’ll get more payoff from those ideas if you master three basic practices. They’re easy to master, but they take discipline to practice.

Pay attention to when and where you get your best ideas. After that, it’s like getting a kiss. You’re most likely to get your next one where you got your last one. To get better, analyze when and where you get your good ideas and try extending the practice to other similar situations.

Capture your ideas. Your brain will generate hundreds of good ideas, but they won’t stay around long. They’re like butterflies on the wind. If you don’t capture them when you get them, you lose them forever. So, develop a technique that works for you to capture those ideas. People use small notebooks, index cards, and voice systems to capture ideas. Get better by paying attention to how you capture ideas. Experiment with different tools and methods.

Use the ideas you get. Getting ideas is fun, and capturing them feels good, but if you do nothing with them, it’s all wasted effort. Most great ideas don’t show up fully formed. You develop them by changing them, combining them with other ideas, and trying them out.

Getting better at this is easy, but it takes discipline. Try putting as many of your ideas to work as soon as you can. Keep the ones that work and don’t worry about the others. You’ll be getting more ideas every day.

Mastering Creative Practice is not a One-and-Done Deal

Creativity is not something you master and then you’re done with. It’s a set of skills you develop and refine as you go through life and your circumstances change. Keep finding new ways to get, capture, and use your good ideas.

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