“Creativity is not just for artists. It’s for business people looking for a new way to close a sale; it’s for engineers trying to solve a problem; it’s for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way.” -Twyla Tharp
As a part of our copywriting and creativity class, we had the opportunity to visit the swankiest building at USC, Glorya Kaufman School of Dance to learn about creativity and the process to build creative confidence. If you ever get a chance, sneak in to experience its grandeur.
We met Barack Marshall, a renowned Israeli American choreographer who spoke on his creative process and the process to build creative confidence. Barack Marshall was a house choreographer at the Batsheva Dance company and currently choreographing at USC. He splits his time between LA and Tel-Aviv. The definition of creativity is subjective as it means different things to different people. The following are Barack’s take on creativity from a dancer’s perspective.
1.Creativity is being human:
Creativity is being your absolute self without expecting any magic to happen. When you express your thoughts in an emotional, intellectual and a practical way on the vision, theme and circumstance, you are being you and therefore being creative. Hence creativity is all about being human.
2. Mistakes make the creative process exciting:
Mistakes and experimentation make the creative process exciting. Only when you try, you apply your creative sensibilities and 9 out of 10 times, you may fail. Remember every time you fail, you are enhancing your effort and approach to achieve the larger goal. Be constructive every time you fail.
3. Pressure is good in creativity
With great pressure comes good creativity. There maybe times when your creative juices may not flow like how you want it to be. During these instances, create a deadline for yourself which in turn will create pressure enabling you to be at your creative best.
4. Creativity speaks through emotions
Whenever you are emotionally engaged or in an unusual environment with contrasting emotions, your creativity enhances. This is because your brain has to make associations which it wouldn’t make in normal situations. Therefore, emotions help you enhance creativity. Next time when you find yourself with contrasting emotions work on whatever project you need as there will be good creative energy in your work,
5. There is no perfection in creativity
Always remember, do not try to be perfect in a creative pursuit. There is no such thing as perfection in your creative work for every time you start to work, you will have a different opinion on the same. Every time you try to be perfect in your creative process, you are killing inspiration, creating anxiety, enabling fear of judgment which are all the wrong ingredients.
6. Creativitiy is a muscle
Like every other muscle in your body, creativity is also a muscle. You need to exercise and train the muscle to boost your creativity.
How do you do that?
It is simple, start being conscious of whatever you do and try to do it slightly different than the normal. Embrace the reality and see how you can add a little extra to your reality. For instance, if you are working on a presentation, put an effort to make sure, it is different from anything else that you’ve ever seen. When you feel, you have produced the best presentation ever, ask this question, “What else can I do with this”?
The answer to this is making sure, you cross check your work and put an effort to understand how can you better the already fine work you’ve done. This will be a good exercise to follow. In fact this question, can be asked at all times for any thing you do with. This is a good exercise to follow to work your creative muscle.
7. Collaboration enhances creativity:
Collaboration is key in creativity, if you need new eyes or mind to look at your ideas or work be open minded to invite others and share your work. The new person may bring in new thoughts that may not have crossed your mind. You need not necessarily incorporate their changes but may have a new perspective to your work. This process can certainly boost your creativity producing great work.
8. There is no specific time to be creative
When you need creative ideas, you cannot pull up a chair or get into a room and have the creative juices flowing. This will only be counterproductive. For some, ideas may flow but may not be the case for rest. Creativity has no specific time, mood or place to get your best ideas. It may happen when you are in the shower, driving a car, eating food, working out anywhere in fact and the most important thing to do at this moment is not have them documented. Either write it down on a paper or your phone or even better use voice ‘memos’ to record the entire thought flow. By this, you can later retrieve and work on it.
Here are 5 simple creative exercises to build your creative confidence
1. Pick a song you love and sing it with new lyrics
Pick any song you love listening to and make your own lyrics to it. It doesn’t have to perfect just make sure you are having fun singing it with your own words.
2. Play the Rhyme Game
Pick a word, Make a sentence using the word and challenge yourself to come up with new sentences that rhymes with the word that you first picked. For instance, street will be my ‘word’. My rhyme will be, I went to the street, to buy some sweet, for my retreat so that I can tweet. You can make up whatever you want. See how far you can stretch your sentences.
3. Draw something without lifting your pen
This could be fun and challenging. You don’t have to be good at drawing just force yourself to not lift your pen and just draw whatever you feel like. It does not have to be perfect, it has to just be something.
4. Take a Photo walk
Photos are good exercise for a creative expression. Mobile phones make it even more simpler. In your daily routine life, as you are walking take pictures of places that you visit regularly. The trick is to ensure that you don’t take the same angle ever again. Keep exploring and trying new perspectives of the same place. Trust me you can shoot so many different angles. If you have exhausted, visit a new place you haven’t been before and explore your skills and creativity there.
5. Practice Meditation
Now, this may sound cliche but the fact is creativity is all about being in the present. Take 10 minutes from your day to meditate. It is simple, where ever you are find a place that is quiet and take a seat. Once you sit down with spine erect, eyes closed, start being conscious of your breath. Every time you inhale or exhale, be aware and count your breath. In case your mind loses count, start it all over again. It may be a little difficult in the beginning so start with 3 minutes and slowly increase the time as you get more practice.
Thus, in conclusion, as Albert Einstein famously quoted, “Creativity is intelligence having fun“. It is as simple as that statement. It is more about going deeper within your mind, to enable new ideas and perspectives which you may not have encountered before.
Have a creative week ahead!
Raja Venkatapathy Mani