How Can I Be More Creative? Developing Creativity as an Adult

Updated on March 8, 2018

How Can I Be More Creative?

Have you ever wished you were more creative? Have you ever looked at something and secretly wished you could come up with ideas like that or create something so beautiful or unique?

I have.

Well, here's some good news. Everyone has the ability to be creative. In fact, everybody is born creative. Yes, even you, person reading this who thinks you're only good at math! You were born creative, too, and you can re-find your creativity. Creativity is like a muscle; you can exercise it and make it stronger, but first you have to overcome your fear of creativity.

I'm afraid to draw, but I love learning new knots and creating unusual things with knots. Are you nervous about some forms of creativity, but comfortable with others?
I'm afraid to draw, but I love learning new knots and creating unusual things with knots. Are you nervous about some forms of creativity, but comfortable with others? | Source

Are you afraid of your creativity?

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Are you Afraid of your Creativity?

Young children are naturally uninhibited in their creative expressions, but, as we age, we become constrained by societal expectations. Pablo Picasso is known for expressing this sentiment time and again, stating things such as “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” That truly is the problem - how to remain creative in the grown-up world.

I insist that I cannot draw. All my life I've wanted to be able to draw, but since some point in elementary school I have been convinced that I absolutely cannot draw. When I was younger, I drew things all over the place (including, quite infamously, the wall of an apartment and my sleeping father), but then something happened. I don't remember the moment I decided I couldn't draw, but, somewhere along the line, I came to that conclusion.

The first step is attempting to identify when you became afraid of your own creativity. Think back to your own childhood - do you remember a time when someone made fun of your drawing, criticized your ability to dance, told you couldn't sing, or otherwise made you feel poorly about a creative effort? Even if you can't remember the turning point for you, try to remember a time when you enjoyed being unabashedly creative. It may have been a long time ago, but there was a day when you weren't afraid of your creativity.

Don't let creative activities stress you out!
Don't let creative activities stress you out! | Source

Dare to Be Creative

The second step to boosting your creativity is re-learning how to express yourself. You can start really, really small by taking private steps toward becoming more creative either by expressing yourself in new ways or trying new things. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Dance around the house to your favorite music.
  • Eat at a new restaurant with a type of cuisine you've never tried before.
  • Turn off your TV for a night (or a week) and come up with something else to do.
  • Keep a notebook and pen with your and, if you have a random thought, jot it down.
  • Enroll in a class - dance, yoga, painting, voice, scrap booking beading, anything- just something you've never done before.
  • Come up with a plan to enjoy your Saturday on a $10 budget.
  • Try writing a sentence or a paragraph, without using the letter "e." (This is actually really tricky because e is the most common letter in the English language!)

No matter how silly you feel to begin with, force yourself to do something different each day. Experts say it takes 21 continuous days for something to become ingrained in your mind, so don't just trying being creative for a week and then give up! Do it every single day.

Experiment with new things - this selective color photograph was one of my first attempts to use the technique and now I'm in love with it!
Experiment with new things - this selective color photograph was one of my first attempts to use the technique and now I'm in love with it! | Source

If your schedule or budget won't allow you to enroll in a class, find an all-inclusive kit that shows you, step by step, how to make something new. Creating something tangible is an amazing feeling!

Don't Wait for Inspiration

Inspiration doesn't just show up and knock on your door. It simply isn't something you can wait around for. Instead, find activities that allow you the time to think, such as jogging or bicycling, or force yourself to work at creating something. Look up a craft project or painting guide online and attempt to create anything, even if you're not feeling particularly creative that day. If you don't like the results, try again another day. Exerting at least some creative effort every day will help you reinforce your creative habits. If you can't force yourself to try being creative, join a club or enroll in a class so others can at least hold you accountable for your attendance. Simply showing up and trying is at least half the battle!

You know the saying "Necessity is the mother of invention"? It is true. If you want to get really radical in order to improve your creativity, remove luxuries from your life and force yourself to get creative. This may not be for everyone, but it will certainly improve your creativity! For example, you can:

  • Totally do away with your TV/cable access. If you're anything like the average American, you will have to find something new to do for approximately four hours a day!
  • Get rid of your car, or at least pledge not to use it as much as possible. You have to be creative to figure out most bus schedules!
  • Set an incredibly restrictive food or entertainment budget for the week or month and find new ways to feed and amuse yourself.

Every time you remove a comfort or luxury and force yourself to adapt, you increase your creativity and each time you successfully defeat one of these obstacles you gain confidence in your creative abilities.

Csikszentmihalyi has several well-known, highly-respected books on how you can achieve "flow."

Characteristics of Creative People

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a positive psychologist who has made a career of studying happiness. He has also studied creative individuals in order to learn what makes them more creative. These are some of his conclusions:

  • Creative individuals regularly experience a state of being he calls flow.
  • Flow is a heightened state of pleasure that is experienced when a person is engaged in an absorbing mental and/or physical challenge.
  • Every person in the world is capable of achieving flow by cultivating his or her curiosity and interest.

Csikszentmihalyi has simple tips for improving curiosity and interest. He believes every person can improve his or her creativity by doing these three things daily:

  1. Try to be surprised by something every day.
  2. Try to surprise at least one person every day. Life has a habit of becoming predictable and regimented. Breaking free of the routine boosts your creativity.
  3. Journal about what surprised you and what you did to surprise others. Memories are fleeting and Csikszentmihalyi has found that most creative people keep some sort of journal or log to record their thoughts and feelings, ensuring they are not lost forever.

In his research, Csikszentmihalyi also found that creative people get up every day with a specific goal or activity in mind. In short, creative people are eager to start the day. This does not mean they are pathologically chipper, it simply means they have a specific task they want to accomplish each day and can't wait to get started.

Becoming More Creative

You really can become more creative, it just takes practice. Start small by forcing yourself to do something different each day, then practice creating situations that make you exercise your creativity. Before long, you'll be hooked on the excitement that comes with overcoming obstacles creating new things or ideas, and expressing yourself.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Nadene 

        6 weeks ago

        Loved this!!! So helpful :)))

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Thanks Alise and epigramman! It is so hard to remain above the influence, as it were. I went to a writing program in high school and it really frustrated me to be graded on my writing, but I think it worked out in the long run. It's a little different from visual arts, though.

        Thanks so much for your praise, epigramman! I really appreciate it and am thankful for you sharing my work. =)

      • epigramman profile image

        epigramman 

        5 years ago

        Hello Natasha and good afternoon from Colin , Little Miss Tiffy and Mister Gabriel at lake erie time ontario canada at 12:17pm after night shift sleep with first cup of coffee and listening to some nice light classical music to start the day.

        Well I say in terms of creative writing to always write from the heart and the mind will follow and I see/read that you already do that in your most informative and inspiring hub seminar . You have such a wide ranging and eclectic variety of hubs to choose from and that puts you in a category of a world class journalist - I will post and link 'both' your article here to my FB page for all to see/read and your main bio intro page as well to find you some more readers. In terms of creativity in writing I think 'dat' guy from lake erie must be at the top of the list because I can write anywhere/anytime about anything, lol lol - so nice to meet you my friend and sending to you warm sincere wishes and good energy from the three of us

      • profile image

        Alise- Evon 

        5 years ago

        It is so true that wrong beliefs get programmed into us at early ages that really impact our lives. I remember purposely not taking any art class electives in high school for the very reasons I did not want to be influenced by having to do certain techniques or want to be graded on my work. Here's a fabulous book for better understanding how we end up believing untruths about ourselves: The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.

        Love your knotted jewelry.

        Voted useful and interesting.

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Ahaha. Yes, you (and Yoda!) are correct! You have to just do things, even if you don't feel super inspired, because getting your brain working is how you'll find inspiration!

      • profile image

        Judy Nolan 

        5 years ago

        Perhaps one of the most important points you bring up in your post is that you shouldn't wait for inspiration to strike. As Yoda would say, "Do, or do not."

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Thanks for having such an appropriate, inspirational place to link up!

      • profile image

        Sarah 

        5 years ago

        I love this post - it's awesome! I love the idea of being surprised each day. Thankfully for me I work with children so I am definitely surprised by something or other during the working day :)

        Thanks for linking up!

        Sarah

        http://acatlikecuriosity.blogspot.co.uk

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Well, you've clearly got English figured out now! Thank you for commenting and following - comments always make me happy and I'm glad this hub 'spoke' to you.

      • hawaiianodysseus profile image

        Hawaiian Odysseus 

        5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

        Hi, Natasha!

        I like the ideas you've presented here in this hub. Decades ago, I was terrified about attending undergraduate classes at the University of Washington. I spoke pidgin English, and somehow, I got the notion that I could only get by on the mainland by speaking with perfect diction. Boy, did that fear ever paralyze my growth as a person! So I really got into this hub on several levels. Thank you for sharing, and I'll be sure to follow more of your excellent writing because...in just about 60 seconds, I'm going to be your next follower! Aloha from SE Washington state!

        Joe

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Thanks!

      • Claudia Tello profile image

        Claudia Tello 

        5 years ago from Mexico

        This is a great hub full of positive ideas and up-lifting information. Congratulations.

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Thanks so much for voting and sharing! I get so tired of hearing people say they're not creative. It simply isn't true - I believe there is creativity in all of us.

      • profile image

        Olde Cashmere 

        5 years ago

        This is a wonderfully written hub on unleashing the creativity we all have inside of us. Great job with this Natashalh. Voting up, sharing, and rating useful and awesome :)

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Thank you! I really appreciate the share. Though warm wishes from Ontario...I've never been warm in Ontario. I was warm in Nova Scotia once, though... =)

      • epigramman profile image

        epigramman 

        5 years ago

        ....well coming from one of the most creative people that the Hub will ever see I would say Natasha you have done a most excellent and thorough job here exploiting the creative zeitgeist in all of us and I will happily be using your research as a handy reference guide myself - so nice to meet you and I will share this with other creative people at the Hubpages FB group with a share, link and a post -sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie time ontario canada 8:48pm

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Thanks, hisandhers. Yes, it's sad how many people just stop doing things they love because someone else criticizes them.

      • hisandhers profile image

        hisandhers 

        5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

        What an interesting Hub! It's so sad that people abandon their favorite modes of self-expression simply because they feel they're not "good" at it. Art is such a subjective thing and even artists such as Jackson Pollack were criticized back in their day because they weren't considered "creative" or "talented" enough. I say, if it feels good, do it! Such an inspirational hub!

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Thank you, KBEvolve! Often we really are our own worst enemy.

      • KBEvolve profile image

        Kenneth Brown 

        5 years ago from United States

        This was really great. It had lots of good and practical advice, and it also really reinforced the idea that perceived limitations can be overcome.

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Thank you, GoodLady =)

      • GoodLady profile image

        Penelope Hart 

        5 years ago from Rome, Italy

        Hope people who feel blocked a bit find your article because the steps you suggest here to get in touch with your creative self are so helpful. Voting!

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        To me, talent implies inborn ability, so you are correct. It is a talent everyone is born with, but many do not cultivate.

        Here in America, many see math ability as an innate talent and people think you either have it or you don't. Interviews of Japanese students and parents show they believe math is something everyone can do if they work hard. Japanese students practice math more and they consistently score better on math ability tests than Amican students. This shows that practice is key! If anyone says they just weren't born creative and there is no hope for them, I think they are wrong wrong - everyone can become creative.

      • kathleen1630 profile image

        Kathleen 

        5 years ago from Philippines

        creativity is a talent but improving your creative works is different. I agree to your statement Natashalh that the key to being better at anything is practice. so cheers to more of your creative works :)

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Thank you =)

      • profile image

        seo-packages 

        5 years ago

        very inspirational!!

      • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR

        Natasha 

        5 years ago from Hawaii

        Thank you, Twinstimes2! I appreciate being called creative. =) You are correct - they key to being better at anything is practice.

        I think creative people probably are more confident because they've learned how to overcome fear of judgement or rejection of their creative efforts. Un-confident people aren't very likely to take the 'risk' being creative demands!

        I absolutely agree, Billybuc - making the choice to live frugally demands creativity. It's fun, isn't it? Conquering a challenge is a really great feeling. Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        5 years ago from Olympia, WA

        Dare to be creative!!!!! That is one powerful message! What I have found, is that by choosing to live a frugal lifestyle, I have forced myself to be creative in ways I never dreamed possible.....and I love it.

        And I love this message!

      • LauraGSpeaks profile image

        LauraGSpeaks 

        5 years ago from Raleigh, NC

        I love this inspiring hub encouraging all of us to awaken the hidden creativity within us. Do you think creative people are more confident too?

      • twinstimes2 profile image

        Karen Lackey 

        5 years ago from Ohio

        Love the article. I find myself creative in some regards and very reserved in others. I consider you very creative and surprised about your drawing reservation. :) My kids ask me all the time, "How do you get better than us at ____ ". I say practice.

        Great job.

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