Ready for a quick creativity boot camp courtesy of my preschoolers? They are psyched and ready to teach you how to be creative in all areas of your life, and it will only take two easy steps.
And the real kicker, this isn’t just for you artistic types!
Creativity is all about original ideas. Original ideas about all kinds of things! Ideas that can help you solve problems at work, figure out how to get your kids to eat their vegetables, build a better mousetrap, or start a company. Creativity is for all of us, and the more we can muster, the more opportunities we have to carve our own paths.
Cool, right!? Well, then. Let’s get into it.
The Creativity Well
As a writer, creativity is core to what I do. And when the ideas are flowing it feels amazing! Like I’m fully stocked with creativity juice.
At the same time, there’s this little voice in the back of my head saying, “what if I lose it?”
What if I run out of ideas?
What if I wake up tomorrow and my brand of humor becomes blasé?
What if I completely forget how to be creative?
What I end up being straight-up boring?
I worry that perhaps this is my one shot at pouring the ideas all out of my head and onto a computer screen otherwise they will find a home with someone else and I’ll be left to my journal with nothing to report on but the weather.
It’s a super scary thought! I love writing and I want to stay in the zone for-ev-er. If this well runneth dry, this important piece of my life goes away.
Tell Me a Story
But true to form, my kids helped me ease those creativity concerns by pushing me to the creative limits.
After dinner, Jack and Norah want to hear stories. Not from a book, on the spot. Glen and I are given a character to work with but the plot is fully Mom and Dad’s responsibility.
This seemed really hard at first, but we’ve gotten the hang of it. And this little adventure has led to some pretty ridiculous tales about ducks, and ducktails. It has ended in meowing contests and dance-offs.
We laugh, a lot. Sometimes at how insane our stories get, sometimes at how much our kids are entertained by something that any publisher would deem derivative, uninspired, or simply a chorus of farm animal noises.
There once was a firefighter named Rogeroni who had a dog named Spot. Spot only liked to eat macaroni.
The Backstreet Boys were supposed to have a concert but aliens took away their ability to dance.
A cat named Steve wanted to be a doctor for people, but things took a turn when he found himself in a high-speed chase with police on Cookie Lane.
How to Be Creative
However, despite the unpublishableness of our silly stories, the more stories I tell my kids about police officers, magicians, and outer space, the more I learn the secret behind how to be creative. It’s simple really.
1. Be Open
If I were to name a character in a story, my instinct would be to pull from a list of names of people I know. If I was being creative then I might tap into my unused baby name list.
But my kids routinely name characters things like Rogeroni, Putie, Adwala, Gagoogagoo, and Captain Officer Sergeant Yuki Spoon. They are open to possibilities, open to being silly, open to combining sounds to make something new. They aren’t restricted by what they already know.
When you feel your creativity well running dry and you’re running out of ideas to solve a problem – mix things up!
Say yes to an activity you’d normally say no to. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Hang your head off the couch and see the world upside down. Put your right foot in and shake it all about without abandon!
Whenever you’re open to new experiences and ways to view the world, creativity sees an opening and sneaks in.
2. Be Curious
Sometimes I’ll be going down a storyline at dinner and find myself a little lost on how to move it forward. That’s when the kids help save the day.
“What street were they on? Where did the dog go? What color was Prince Googalie’s hair?”
Their curiosity allows the story to keep going or take a sharp turn left.
If you’re feeling stuck with a problem and you don’t know how to be creative and work your way out of it, then start asking questions.
Random questions – like a kid!
What would the Queen of England think about this? How do frogs make friends? What if the moon could talk? What would happen if….?
The answers you come up with may be completely unrelated to the creativity problem you’re facing at the moment, or they could spark something exciting out of the blue.
I can promise this – you won’t be viewing your world through beige-colored glasses anymore, and that’s the point!
Your Creativity Tool Belt
I can’t say that I’m totally over the fear of hitting a creativity rut. But at least thanks to my two little people I feel like I have a couple of tools in my how to be creative tool belt that will help light a new spark when needed.
So if all of a sudden there is a blog post on here dedicated to Curious George fan fiction, or I start typing in Wingdings, just know that I’m being open and being curious at that moment. And if everything goes to plan, or even if it goes off the rails, I’ll harness that creativity to make something substantial soon.
Or I’ll let it run wild and make something unsubstantial but very entertaining.
Either way, stay tuned! And use these tips to go solve some problems in your professional life or personal life. I think you’ll be surprised at how much creativity you’ve got in the old noggin!