Why Should we Learn Creative Skills?
The old system is breaking down. Tasks are being automated, removing the need for time-consuming, repetitive, algorithmic labor. This is so exciting.
When you take away the routine and the mass-market, cookie-cutter jobs, the only thing left is novelty. Our unique thought, our creativity is valuable in this new automated world.
Relying on our creativity is a scary thought to some of us. We picture the pitiful, starving artist with their beret and paint-loaded brush, rapping on the subway. That’s not us. We’re not “Creative”.
Creative skills are not just art.
You don’t have to be an artist to be creative.
Perspective to see things from other points of view, addressing a problem from a unique vantage point, collaboration with others, imagination – these are creative skills. Innovative thought brings opportunity into your life. Who doesn’t want more of that?
When I was in university, creativity came easily to me. With a roof over my head, a wee part-time job to provide for my other needs, great people around me to spark ideas I had very little to worry about. The world was ahead of me and full of possibility.
I was sure that when I graduated I would fall into the perfect job and continue this creative growth. I did not expect the harsh world that awaited me.
An economic downturn made it impossible to find a job. My boyfriend lost his job and started having huge fits of depression. Soon, money became an issue and we were evicted from our rental house. The stress of life was causing unprecedented fear and anxiety. Where would we live? How would we pay our rent and buy food?
I kept trading down my expectations. I’ll settle for a retail job fit for a school kid; I’ll live in an isolated farm-house because what choice do I have? My portfolio was buried in a cupboard. I never looked at it let alone worked on it. Creativity was a luxury – we had to survive.
How can we Develop Creativity?
Fear and Anxiety are the opposite of Creativity. The lower, primal parts of our brain are hard-wired to pick up fear and anxiety and use these to motivate our survival. It recoils from anything new. Novelty carries risk and risk can harm us.
We used to think of our creativity as ‘right brained’ and our logic as ‘left brained’. Now we’re learning to see the brain left-right and front-back. Our creativity is to use our whole brain. When our survival brain is calm and quiet, we can open up our pre-frontal cortex to think things through more slowly. When we have creative insights, we are making novel connections across our whole brain.
It took me a long time to recognise this pattern. Years later, I had moved to New Zealand and started a new life. I wasn’t ‘living the dream’ but I was tipping the scales back in my favour. I had a job at the bank that could pay the bills, repay debt and even build savings. I had a kind partner, a place to live and food on the table. My daily needs were met, I could even travel now and then.
I started scheduling time to create, to try projects; but, I found the fear and anxiety pattern on a micro scale. Our inner critic is always with us. Just because I was safe and stable, didn’t mean the fear and anxiety had been healed – it had just been calmed. The voice in my head kept saying, “You’re not creative.”
It would use evidence from that rough time as proof, “If you were creative, you would have a design job. If you really were creative, inspiration would have struck before now. You’ll never catch up.”
The good news is, this critical voice isn’t true. It’s just scared of change and new ideas. We can develop creative skills. Inspiration, innovation and opportunity is ours for the taking – it just takes a little practice.
Creativity, like anything else, can be learned. Soon it will be essential so start developing it now. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Set your environment up to aid creativity. Calm music, a clean workspace and some deep breaths before you start can provide a safe, stable base for you to build from.
- Choose a ‘creative’ goal that is aligned with your interests: it might be artistic, it might be puzzles, problem solving, seeking to understand someone you haven’t met before. The only requirement is that it is a novel experience for you – something new.
- Give yourself permission to fall short of expectations because genius takes time.
- Shine a spotlight on your fear. It’s rarely the monster you think it is. Examine what’s holding you back, write down the worst case scenario and then write down a more realistic way things might pan out or some strategies you could use to reduce the worst case scenario.
- Warm up first. Exercise needs warm ups, so does creativity. Think of your first few attempts as ‘throw-aways’ or just for fun.
I hope some of these tactics are helpful for you.
Be brave and curious,