Creativity Training

9 Aug

This morning, I was having a discussion with a friend about writing. She wrote an excellent post for Elephant Journal almost a year ago about body acceptance, and the post has received around 450,000 views. She said she wanted to write more, but that posts like the one that went viral on Elephant Journal only came about when the inspiration struck—when she found something she was particularly passionate, angry, or excited about.

I told her that, like any skill worth having, writing (or any creative endeavor) has to be developed and practiced.

Even if you aren’t necessarily an athlete or “in shape”, sometimes a burst of adrenaline or a good night’s sleep could get you through a two or three-mile jog or a fitness class. But to be ready to run a 10K, you would have to train and dedicate time weekly to be prepared for the race.

Creative pursuits are no different. Let’s take writing. I’m going to use my own experience with this blog. I started blogging during the summer of 2011 when I spent a summer studying in Merida, Mexico. I tried to write a weekly post about my experiences and funny stories that would happen. I noticed that each week, it was easier, and (at least in my opinion), the quality of the posts improved. When I studied in Cuba during the spring of 2012, I was enrolled in an independent study focused on travel writing. One of the assignments was a weekly blog. Each week, the writing got easier. It took less time, I was able to stay focused, and again, I think the quality of the posts improved.

Whether you’re exercising your body or your brain, consistency is key. In the case of a blog, some posts are going to be better than others. For creative endeavors, it’s hard to make something that is just mediocre, or that, while passable, you don’t think is necessarily your best.

But it’s far worse to just stop altogether for fear that whatever you make won’t live up to your highest standard. Inertia is powerful, but it works both ways. If you stop, you’ll stay stopped. If you go, you will keep going and build up momentum and drive that will translate into some really phenomenal creations.

My favorite ballet teacher summed up this point so succinctly during the last class that I took with her.

“With dance, you’ll never be perfect. But if you do a step and don’t do it right, you can’t just stop what you’re doing. You have to keep going and try to do it better next time.”

I think about it in terms of doing any kind of balance in a dance class. Sometimes, you can hold a balance for just a split second, long enough to suffice, but nothing special. Other days, you are holding all of your muscles just right, breathing properly, and wearing the right shoes. You hit the position and balance ephemerally, suspended in time and only coming down when you have to. But you know what? You practice your balances in class multiple times every damn day.

Whether it’s writing a blog, balancing in passé, sketching a bowl of fruit, designing a logo, or playing the piano, you have to keep at it consistently. Only then will you truly be able to have those moments of sustained inspiration—a heart wrenching story, a balance that lasts for days, a masterpiece, a symphony.

 

What do you think? Can creativity be developed? How can you foster creativity in your own life? More importantly… has my writing improved over the years, or did I peak at 19? 😀

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5 Responses to “Creativity Training”

  1. marshmallowgreen August 9, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    I have found that, contrary to my youthful thinking, creativity requires the same discipline and practice as business or states craft. I always wanted to think that being an artist left you free to do whatever came to mind or body. But it’s not successful thinking. And there’s nothing wrong with success in art–or discipline in art for that matter.

    • gschrubbe August 14, 2014 at 11:49 am #

      Astute and on-the-money as usual!

  2. dimitrichernyshov August 9, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Absolutely. Like any other body part, creativity must be exercised – use it or use it.
    Do you also find that being creative leads to more creativity? Similar to how learning the answer to one question leads to many other questions.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. On Blogging | Jammin' with G.A. - September 2, 2014

    […] something,” and I think that applies to many things, blogging included. Like I talked about in “Creativity Training,” it’s often more about consistency than about trying to strike gold every […]

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