Creativity is something that many people (myself included, until recently) believe you either ‘have or don’t’. Our fixed mindset culture leads us to believe that creativity is a God given, natural talent that is simply part of the personalities of a lucky minority. Similar sentiments are thought about artistic, musical, and athletic ‘talents’, leading us to believe that these traits are either gifted to you at birth, or … not.
For me, creativity was one of these ‘magic traits’ that I deemed myself ‘not blessed with’. Sure, I had other ‘talents’, but out of the box thinking was not one of them. That is, until something happened- I caught myself HAVING AN IDEA!
As it turns out, creativity is not something that God has only supplied to a lucky few. It is a characteristic that with time, attention, careful thought, and focus, can be developed, strengthened, and cultivated. In fact, I now can’t think of a character trait that isn’t this way. We aren’t __________ (athletic, musical, math, artistic, creative…) people. Rather, we are who we commit to being through focus, hard work, perseverance, and passion.
Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate, often shares the frustration he experienced when a colleague told him that designing and implementing off the wall engaging learning experiences was “easy for him, because he’s creative”. On the contrary, Dave’s ideas (as he explains in the text) don’t appear to him in blinding flashes of light or drop from the sky in a fury of perfection. Instead, they are honed and crafted by thoughtful “engagement in the creative process” which include trying new things, cultivating passions, and asking the right questions.
Generating engaging, relevant, and meaningful blog post ideas is one area of creativity that I often wish would present as a flash of genius in perfectly timed moments. Instead, (like all things worthwhile) my creativity requires sustained focus, commitment, and hard work.
Engaging in the Creative Process: Ways to Spark Blog Post Ideas
- Actively Seek Inspiration: Actively seek inspiration for your writing. Learning in ‘Open’ spaces (blogs, Twitter, etc) embraces the notion of sharing and remixing one another’s ideas. Take the time to experience the content in your field, reading, reflecting on, and thinking critically about others’ contributions. Honor differences in opinion, using the opportunity to challenge your own thought patterns, learn, and grow. Reflect on these experiences in your blog.
- Journal: Keep a journal (or two) of ‘blog worthy’ notes. Notepads and paper in your car, office, bedside table, etc, are great for jotting down inspiration as it comes. Record specific quotes, questions, and ideas to be unpacked at a later time.
- RUN: Aerobic exercise has been shown to encourage growth in the hippocampus, potentially helping to spark ideas and create connections. Running typically yields me a minimum of one blog post per mile. It works so well that I’m currently working on devising a system for ‘journalling while jogging’.
- Prioritize Time for Creativity: Honing any skill takes focused attention; and focused attention takes time. Set aside time in your weekly schedule for actively working at the skill of generating ideas and fostering creativity. Identify what it is that helps get your creative juices flowing and schedule time in your day to practice. Some things that work for me (some better than others) are: listening to music, going for a walk with my dog, reading, spending time in quiet reflection, journaling, reading the Bible, playing sports, and going for a drive – certainly nothing Earth shattering and nothing I haven’t engaged in before, but doing so with the specific goal of generating ideas has been quite helpful. Identify what it is that helps fuel your creative fire and make time in your day to commit to fostering the skill of brainstorming.
- Cut Yourself Some Slack: Allow yourself permission to write – to write and share. Not every idea will be (or needs to be) fully fleshed out before publication. Open Education embraces and encourages ideas that are ‘not yet’ fully developed, fostering both sharing and collaboration as we work to reuse, revise, and remix one another’s work.
- Stop Thinking That You Aren’t Creative: A huge contributor to my ability to ‘become more creative’ was belief that I was capable of producing creative ideas. Reflect on your personal creativity goals and articulate them as you would when working to achieve any new PR. Then, shed the fixed mindset, set your sights on becoming uber creative, and actively work to go get it!