Creativity: What it is & How to cultivate it

Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, Sep 6, 2013

brain pickings tree

Creativity is essential for professional success and quality of life. It only makes sense that it crowns Bloom’s taxonomy. Instead of ‘educating people out of their creativity‘ (creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson), which still happens all too often, we need to do the exact opposite: Cultivate the inherent creativity of every person. The below list includes many great suggestions for how we might best foster creativity. Popova’s philosophy of combinatorial creativity, on which Brain Pickings is based, is in itself a great contribution to the daily cultivation of creativity. Maya Angelou’s is a great motto:

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.

Bradbury, Eames, Angelou, Gladwell, Einstein, Byrne, Duchamp, Close, Sendak, and more

“Creativity” is one of those grab-bag terms, like “happiness” and “love,” that can mean so many things it runs the risk of meaning nothing at all. And yet some of history’s greatest minds have attempted to capture, explain, describe, itemize, and dissect the nature of creativity. After similar omnibi of cultural icons’ most beautiful and articulate definitions of art, of science, and of love, here comes one of creativity.

For Ray Bradbury, creativity was the art of muting the rational mind:

The intellect is a great danger to creativity … because you begin to rationalize and make up reasons for things, instead of staying with your own basic truth — who you are, what you are, what you want to be. I’ve had a sign over my typewriter for over 25 years now, which reads “Don’t think!” You must never think at the typewriter — you must feel. Your intellect is always buried in that feeling anyway. … The worst thing you do when you think is lie — you can make up reasons that are not true for the things that you did, and what you’re trying to do as a creative person is surprise yourself — find out who you really are, and try not to lie, try to tell the truth all the time. And the only way to do this is by being very active and very emotional, and get it out of yourself — making things that you hate and things that you love, you write about these then, intensely.

Long before he became the artist we know and love, a young Maurice Sendak full of self-doubt wrote in a letter to his editor, the remarkable Ursula Nordstrom:

Knowledge is the driving force that puts creative passion to work.

In writing back, Nordstrom responded with her signature blend of wisdom and assurance:

That is the creative artist — a penalty of the creative artist — wanting to make order out of chaos.

Read the entire list

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