crushing creativity


I just read an interesting article by Carlin Flora, called “Everyday Creativity,” in the December issue of Psychology Today.

It was rich with ideas I want to explore in future posts. But even before I flipped to the story,  Kaja Perina used her front-of-book editor’s note to explain “how to crush your last shard of creativity.” According to Perina, these are five “surefire tips to extinguish the creative spark:”

– Know exactly what you’re doing before you get started

– Be careful not to offend

– Get permission

– Run it by everyone first

– Criticize yourself at every step

All those saccharine motivational sayings (“leap and the net will appear!”) just make me snicker. But I’m ready to post this list right on my desk. There’s nothing like a set of rigid rules to awaken my inner rebel, and this is such a cheeky reminder of how to actually be creative.

Then there’s the deceptively simple concept of everyday creativity. Yes, the Sistine Chapel can steal your breath. Mozart’s Requiem routinely makes happy people weep. And I once lost a full half-hour in front of a de Kooning painting. But when people take everyday ideas, objects, sounds, spaces, events and ingredients and transform them into something better — something inspired and surprising — that’s the foundation of a creative life.

As Flora’s story argues, engaging in creative behavior makes people more dynamic, conscious, non-defensive, observant, collaborative, and brave. People who spend their days immersed in innovation know that creativity is less about divine intervention and more like working in a coal mine; you just have to show up and keep digging.

Would I post that on my desk? I’m not sure. But I do know it’s better than “shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”


posted 17 Nov 09 in: art, media. This post currently has 2 responses.

2 Responses so far. Add Your Own.

Was just watching this TED talk and was reminded of this post of yours on creativity. He has an interesting take on schools crushing our creativity and I wanted to pass along in case you missed this one:

allison / 07 Dec 09

Thanks, Allison! I will take a look. I love the TED talks.

cheri / 08 Dec 09

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