Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Creativity: nuturing the spark within

Creativity is something I'm interested in.  I like to create in a lot of different ways.  I like to learn about how to encourage creativity and understand it better.  I have written about it before.

There are some who think that creativity is something that is outside themselves; that it comes from a "muse" or other being.  Others are of the opinion that sufficient practice of creative endeavour results in creative products. I'm not sure where I sit in this spectrum.

In her TEDtalk, Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, pray love) speaks of the experience of the creative muse.  She sees it as something outside of self but that a person needs to apply oneself to the creative process in order for it to be of benefit.  Kind of like harnessing the power of a wild element.

Amy Tan (author of the Joy Luck Club and many others ) in her TEDtalk speaks of life experience and how it informs her.  She also asks a lot of questions of her experience and other's experience.

I read somewhere (possibly in this book) that Einstein would deliberately put a pencil in his hand and try to doze off because the period between awake/asleep was when he had his best ideas.  I have noticed this myself.  Moving from awake consciousness to sleeping I pass through a zone where I'm sufficiently relaxed with an open mind that ideas do occur.   Sometimes those ideas startle me awake again and my mind begins to race so fast I find it difficult to go back to sleep.  I really need to keep a notebook or something beside my bed to jot stuff down in so it isn't lost and also so I can relax again!

I do think there are things that dampen creativity. 

Time is the obvious one.  If you don't have space to let the muse occur or to begin to practise with your creative tools (whatever these are) then nothing productive will happen.

For me, pressure to perform can be a creative killer but other times it can be a motivator.

The environment also contributes something.  I need space to do scrapbooking and my desk is small, my space is cluttered.  It's not helpful. If my workplace environment is oppressive, with lots of "passion killing" attitudes floating around then I find it difficult to be creative at work.

How to kick start creativity?

There are a couple of things that can help me. 

If it is scrapbooking I want to do, I find sitting myself down and picking some photos, coordinating cardstock/paper and a sketch from someplace will help me on my way. 

If it is an idea for teaching or something work related I like to have the space and freedom to brainstorm wild ideas however inconceivable they seem at first.  This can be difficult if somebody thinks I'm actually serious about some of the wild ideas and stomps on them.  Visiting other libraries, reading about what other libraries and librarians are doing via conferences or my PLN is also inspirational.

DH recently entered a competition for landscape photography - he got a bronze award for his entry & was 35th in his category.  I'm so proud of him; he inspires me. (Someone has to toot his, ok that sounds rude *cough*)

Here are some other things I find inspirational

What do you think?  Is creativity from within, without, nature vs nurture vs practice? What inspires you?  What kills your inspiration?


  1. thanx for the post - I'm busy watching masterchef, but will definitely watching the videos later.

  2. I was told whilst young that I was "just not good at art". I reclaimed some creativity much later through pottery, and yet I still describe my pieces as useful rather artistic.
    It's great to read things like this from you and Mal to feel you can give yourself the space to be more creative in different ways.

  3. I think Fatigue is a great dampener for creativity

  4. I love Amy Tan's writing. I have read every single one of her books - but there doesn't seem to have been one for a while - has she retired?