My lessons in creativity began when I was a child as I was allowed to explore and play with whatever caught my interest. I think some of those lessons are valid today in developing creativity and learning to trust yourself. While you can’t go back in time—you can capture some of the benefits of thinking like a kid.
Growing up, I was the creative and artistic one in my family, so I have never doubted my creativity. However, finding a satisfying way of expressing has been a whole other story.
Being creative has brought me a lot of personal joy. My parents were really wonderful about reinforcing my love of all things creative and artistic. I look back at some of the kooky crafty kits I got and I smile because I had so much fun with them. I’m also happy I didn’t get seriously hurt—but hey it was a different time!
When I was a kid, my favorite gifts at Christmas were always creative presents. My parents always found unique craft kits that I have never ever seen in stores, yet I will never forget them. And there are reasons that no one will ever see them. But I did and they helped make me the person I am today.
My favorite was a kit that you baked parts to assemble into little bug monsters. The kit involved metal molds that you filled with goo and baked until the goo set. And then, you the kid, had to carefully get them out and let them cool. Then you tried to put the pieces together to form crazy colorful looking rubbery bugs but the pieces would often tear into even smaller rubbery pieces. I am not sure why THAT toy isn’t on the market any more?
Another year it was a plastic tool, that had a little wire at the top that got hot enough that you could use it to cut through foam. You could cut foam into all sorts of shapes and then assemble the shapes into bigger things.
Chemistry sets? We had one and it involved “chemicals”, glass tubes, and metal spoons. Again, there was heat involved, this time the open flame of a candle. As did most girls, I had an Easy Bake, again with hot metal pans.
Better than the store bought kits was the continual access to stuff to create with. I had the usual crayons, paper, glue, and scissors. But I was also allowed to use my mom’s left over material from sewing and could do some basic things with needle, thread, and the sewing machine. I always had yarn, beads, and crochet hooks.
I also spent a lot of time outside playing and pretending.
I found my creativity in childhood. Looking back, while not all the zany gifts my parents gave me can be replicated, the basic processes can. I did then and I still do follow these three ways to discover your creativity like a child does.
How to Discover Your Creativity Like a Kid Does
Do Things That Sound or Look FUN
I’m concurrently working on another post that addresses other aspects of working with creativity, such as actually “working” at it. But I believe the very best start of any creative project is FUN. It should seem like fun to work on it at first.
Sometimes fun is looked at with a little suspect. Things of value aren’t necessarily fun, right? Yet, some of my best ideas started out as something I thought would be fun. And if you’re doing it as FUN, who cares how it turns out.
And as weird as this may sound, the thing you do for FUN, may not actually turn out to be your genius creative idea. But it can be the spring board for something amazing.
All I can say is do FUN things. Do things with your hands. Get dirty. Make messes. Play. You don’t have to do it every day but do it when you have an idea about something that sounds fun.
All to often, as adults, we don’t even THINK of fun things to do, much less, think we have time for them. So, if you get an idea that sounds FUN, I really encourage you to go for it. Even if that FUN thing doesn’t lead to something profitable, it’s priming the pump for good things down the road.
Do it Poorly
Even as a kid, when I was working on something, I wanted it to turn out well. It didn’t always turn out the way I wanted. However, if I was into it, (Remember the rubbery bug monsters?) I would spend hours working away at my project. I wasn’t afraid to make mistakes or do it poorly. Every attempt taught me something.
Every once in a while, I’ll get an idea for something, do it, and it turns out great. That’s every once in a while. A great while! Usually, the first attempt is pretty basic and not-so-pretty. That includes writing as well. If you demand perfection on the first try, you will have trouble getting creative.
Creativity just doesn’t always work like that. It requires that you be a beginner. It requires that you take that leap of faith. To tell you the truth, when I get my best effort out, I still feel like it’s a little crude and childlike.
What I can tell you, is that if you just get willing to do whatever it is that you want to do, poorly at first, you, if you continue, you will improve. If you keep working with that idea, it will get better. It will form into something you couldn’t even visualize at first. And you will often be pleasantly surprised.
Creativity requires, you getting in there and figuratively getting your hands dirty. It doesn’t give you the good stuff until you have put yourself into whatever it is you are working on.
That’s why so many people sit frustrated. They are stuck because they can’t figure out how to do something amazing right away. They want their idea delivered to them fully formed, with a predictable result, and then be able to implement it. It just doesn’t work like that.
Okay, maybe that happens for some people can but they probably aren’t reading this.
However, it does work to get in there and go with your idea and do it however you can. Sometimes you will get ideas as you are working on it. Sometimes the improvements will come the next day or the next month. I don’t pretend to understand the timing of it at all. But I do my best to work with it and honestly, it never fails.
Several years back, I decided to make my own Christmas cards. I made a collage angel, scanned it, and printed it out. Talk about primitive! Yet from that first collage, came a series of artwork that I still love to this day.
Doing something, no matter how badly at first, always works out. Sometimes, I realize that it’s going nowhere and I abandon it. Usually though, I end up with something that makes me very happy and surprised. Because as much as I wish creativity was a systematic and linear process—it isn’t for me.
Try Different Things
I never tried to lock myself into anything as a kid. I loved doing new things. With limited time on my hand as an adult, I am less likely to try new things. Especially if I can’t see a reason to do them.
Yes, doing new things directly feeds into the creative pipeline.
Not every new thing you do will lead to profit. However, I believe that being open to new things and experiencing new things are what can give you unexpected creative ideas.
You just never know what will lead to what with creativity. That’s why I encourage myself and others to try different things.
Here are things I did for FUN this week
- Invited a friend to walk with me instead of going alone as usual.
- Played with my grand daughter all day on Thursday.
- Went out with a friend on Wednesday and talked the night away.
Here are things I did POORLY this week
- This post! It has been on my computer for weeks. Finally, this week, it somehow split its poor self into two posts and this one got finished.
- My hair. I try. I only take and post pictures on good hair days.
- All attempts in the kitchen.
Here are some of the NEW things I’m trying this week
- Writing my first e-book.
- Writing my first newsletter/email to subscribers.
- Creating my first downloadable guided meditation (I hope I have it ready soon for the blog!)
- Cooking two brand new dishes for a cookout.
- Throwing myself into Instagram. (This might be my best example of doing things poorly at first!)
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I was a college advisor and career counselor for 8 years as well as being a trained counselor. I’ve talked to a lot of people and most people don’t think they are creative. At all.
I don’t agree. At all. I think everyone has some kind of creativity and that it just needs encouragement and permission to come out. I’m giving you that! I believe in you and I can’t wait to see what you come up with.
Please, please. Keep showing up my friends!
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I'm a former counselor, career services leader, and college advisor. Now I coach and write at My Think Big Life promoting health and personal growth.