Today's guest post touches on a topic close to my heart: creativity! Enjoy!
Ten years ago, when I was first asked to teach creativity to children, I wasn’t sure that creativity could be taught. I racked my brain for bits and pieces of my daily life that had brought me that rarest gift of all: inspiration. If I was going to teach creativity, I had to believe that the inspiration for creativity was not just stumbled upon by chance, it could also be cultivated on purpose.
Tigers and Tennis Shoes
I had always believed that creativity was born when two things that don’t belong together are put together. I called this the juxtaposition of unlike things. Creativity was making connections that no one else had thought of. So I made lists of odd pairs and gave them to a group of children with the instruction to write a story. (I also reminded them that a story must have a problem that will be resolved by the end) The one example that sticks out in my mind was Tigers and Tennis Shoes. This unusual juxtaposition brought about several very good stories and my students discovered what good writers they really were.
Imagination Tea Parties
With an even younger group of children, I planned what I liked to call ‘Imagination Tea Parties’. The children dressed up in costume and came to tea with their parents on the edge of a small wooded area. I began the story for them and as we walked through the forest, they invented the rest of the story on their own. I gave them a few prompts now and then but for the most part, they had so many ideas that they shouted out all at once. I was almost deaf by the end of the party. And the children discovered their inner storyteller.
Creativity Likes an Open Mind
Adults may have to work a little harder to be that creative. My advice for writers is to jot down the things that have given you inspiration in the past and try to use them again. Travel is one of my favorite methods for finding inspiration. Immerse yourself in a foreign culture and language. When problems arise, pay attention. It’s the worst things that happen to us that make the best stories. If you can’t afford to travel, watch foreign films, eat exotic foods, talk to people who have a completely different outlook on life and culture. Creativity likes an open mind. Sometimes inspiration comes from a single out-of-place word, a delicious color, a bright scent, a visible sound. Reading philosophy works for me because it forces me see the world in a different way. Learn something new. Experience something new. Sometimes creativity comes from being uncomfortable.
Creativity Likes Silence
It’s also important to travel within. Clear your mind. Let your mind fill from the deep well of the unconscious instead of the distracting bustle of life on the outside. Creativity likes silence. Creativity likes to be heard.
If you find a way to cultivate creativity, you will find writing success. I don’t know if monetary success will follow right away but I do know that you will be successful in creating something new and exciting - something that is uniquely you. And that sounds like a pretty important success to me.
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