10 Ways to Remain Creative


I am proud to belong to the old school. I am glad that I am a slow learner. I live my life deliberately, and love it. I re-visit the magic of firsts over and over again, every time if possible. The first time that another blog published a guest post by me. The first time I unboxed an Apple device. The first time I heard Gershwin.

All these magical moments fade away as the experiences become commonplace, and we lose the ability to be surprised. Once you cross large enough numbers, joy and surprise is often replaced by smugness. I have seen that happen with my writing, with my music, and with my blog stats!  
One of the secrets of creative living is the ability to stay connected to that sense of wonder, that feeling of awe, that childlike a-ha moment. For creative artists, like writers or painters, it is not uncommon to experience times when that energy seems to disappear. Here are some simple ways to get those creative juices flowing again.


1. Change your expectations
Most artists and writers aim for perfection, and anything less seems to be an insult to their artistry. I hate it when I write something that comes across as mediocre, middle of the road, or as if it is the work of a “sophomoric caricature auteur.” But if you study the great masters of the art, you will find that they have been mistaken more often than they have got their act right. That has not stopped them from keeping at it. Perfectionism leads one straight into the arms of normalcy and conformity, destinations that most creative artists do not have on their itinerary.

2. Learn from children
Growing up and becoming adults robs us of one of the greatest sources of creativity, childlike wonder. Being child-like in your wonderment and creativity does not mean you have to behave childishly.  Einstein and Hitchcock are two examples of creative genius that retains its child-like sense of adventure and amazement. One of the tragedies of growing up is that you are expected to know all the answers and no longer be surprised by anything. Being surprised is viewed almost as a admission of weakness or ignorance. The zen master who keeps pouring tea into a cup that is already full epitomizes the irony of being too full of knowledge.

3. Connect to where you came from
Many of the people who live in large apartments do not even know each other in spite of sharing the same dwelling for years. I see couples wishing each other on their anniversaries through social network status updates even though they share the same home. The modern way of ending a relationship is often through an SMS or being unfriended on Facebook. We live in an age of growing isolation. The creative process is stimulated by interactions in the real world. It is very similar to how babies learn about the world around them. Get back in touch in the real world, face to face, voice to voice, with your family, friends, society, culture and your heritage. Look at life through their eyes, and you will discover new and thought provoking perspectives.

4. Take risks
There is no sadder life than one of regret. The reason that most people don’t do what their hearts dictate is out of fear. Fear of rejection, fear of being ostracized, and fear of losing the comfort of the familiar. Being courageous does not mean absence of fear, but being able to go forward in spite of fear. The most creative minds of our time have been able to create what they did because they took risks, risks that were often considered outrageous.

5. Be a good student
A good student starts by admitting his ignorance. This is followed up by receiving information, retaining it and processing it into knowledge and finally by being able to reproduce and apply this knowledge in the form of wisdom. Inculcate the attitude of a good student. The most amazing creative efforts actually look effortless, but at the heart of it lies great effort, great study, and great discipleship.


6. Relax when stuck
While some artists have created their most intense work under high stress or in very challenging conditions, for most people, the creative juices flow most easily when they are relaxed and at peace. For all creative people there are times when all their mental processes come to a standstill. A creative block can be looked at as an opportunity to take a break from creative work and to get out and in a manner of speaking, “get a life.” Experiencing life from up close can be the perfect medicine to come out of a creative block.

7. Be grateful for your gifts
A sure killer of creativity is arrogance. Many great artists have failed to keep up their creative output for this one reason. This arrogance comes from a feeling that your creative work is a personal achievement. It helps to remember that creativity is a gift that is given to all people. It is used by different people differently. The daily wage earner struggling to pay for his children’s tuition fees is no less creative than the artist pondering the beauty of sunflowers. Think about all the factors that have made it possible for you to exercise your creativity, and how little it would have taken for you to have been prevented from being able to do it. Don’t look at your journey and tell yourself that you have reached, but look forward at how much further you still need to travel.

8. Own all of your selves
Traditional wisdom tends to label our darker sides as undesirable and something that we should be ashamed of. All of us have positive and negative qualities. Disowning our negativities does not make them go away. The great masters have all turned their darkness into food for their creativity. Use your feelings of anger, hatred, envy, or even self pity, as springboards to create your greatest masterpieces. Do not be ashamed of your pain and sorrow or pretend they do not exist. Instead turn them into bows with which to send out the arrows of your creativity.

9. Don’t give up
It is not easy to keep trying to establish yourself as a creative artist in the face of criticism and rejection. One of the hallmarks of true creativity is that is transcends what the world is accustomed to and familiar with. Art of this nature will face resistance in being accepted or acknowledged. Keep at your chosen craft. All your struggles are only going hone your skills till you master them. Most artists who have reached the top of their fields have had to face a lot of rejection before they made it. Keep creating high quality work, keep organizing and applying your knowledge efficiently, and persist. Nothing is impossible to one who has the ability to persist.

10. Have fun
Learn to enjoy yourself. Pursuing a creative life comes with its share of struggle. In that struggle, it is easy to lose one’s sense of humor. This can happen when success finds you too. Remember that creativity is all about bringing fun and happiness into your own life and the lives of others. Don’t take yourself too seriously and learn to laugh at yourself. This can see you through the darkest of nights while putting the brightest of mornings in perspective.

31 comments:

  1. Gr8 tips.. thanks.. I loved the learn from children tip..

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  2. Anonymous10:37 AM

    "Ten Ways to Remain Creative"! This is like that "100% natural" ayurvedic shampoo that my brother-in-law used to produce in a 3-acre factory filled with huge noisy machines. One good way to remain creative is to not imbibe bloggy articles about how to. Of course, i can see how this would seem magically enlightening to people who use "greight" as a matter of course.

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  3. Mukund9:37 PM

    Interesting read.

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  4. great write up sub.. as usual a terrific read :)
    i feel, to know how to be creative there are no books nor blog posts.. it must come from inside by seeing a spark :D

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  5. @Pankaj - Thanks, and glad you liked it. The crux of retaining the creative energy probably lies in breaking free from all the conditioning that "growing up into adults" brings with it.

    @Anonymous - I honor your view, and I agree that creativity is a spiritual energy that bloggy how to's really cannot summon. Thanks for taking time out to comment, loved your shampoo metaphor.

    @Mukund - Wow. I am so flattered to have you here, and that too, leaving a comment. Do feel free to share this on your network.

    @Dee - You are right that no blog post or book can unleash the creative spirit. I hope this list of pointers will help trigger a thought process in the reader that will open the door to getting back in touch with their creative energy. It was written as a creative exercise too, at a time when I was overcome with ennui and unable to find magic or meaning in my surroundings. In some ways, it was written to myself.

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  6. Thanks for the wonderful tips.

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  7. Point 8 spoke to me very loudly. I'm going to take that advice and channel all that negativity into some creative energy. Thank you :)

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  8. thanks for the tips will apply some of them in my life

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  9. Nice tips..Most creative people are always weird people to the world..They are always in need of some personal space..If they succeded in having that space they can create wonders..According to one of ur rules,they should come out of the good girl/good boy syndrome...:-)

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  10. Really great tips jhi :).
    Very helpful.
    Learned a lot :D. Thank you so much :).

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  11. Fantastic actions for kindling creativity. Lot of people assume creativity is associated with only arts and design. One can be creative in whatever they do in their daily drudgery too.

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  12. my personal fav. "take the risk"

    and creativity will never leave your side...

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  13. Anonymous10:56 AM

    To be able to create is the essence of living. Those who cannot create at all, loose interest in life.

    Pattu

    http://www.gardenerat60.blogspot.com

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  14. That was an insightful post. Especially for a new blogger like me, sometimes its mere shyness and a sense of inferiority that block the creative process.

    My favourite one was Learning from Children. They are truly a fantastic source of inspiration and the way they look at things gives one so much perspective and a realisation of how it's the little things that matter.

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  15. Nice read! Creativity is within us. We just need to looks out for sources that can let it shine. Totally agree on - Learning from children and Be a good student.

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  16. very interesting :)

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  17. creativity is God's blessing....
    nice read..



    blog.abhishekdudeja.in

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  18. thanks for this very useful advise esp relevant in my current context-refer my blog for details

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  19. Fantastic and inspiring tips...

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  20. I liked this post. The post-title intrigued me to read the whole of it. I don't think I have seen 10 tips to be creative anywhere else..:)

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  21. woww.. another important and lovely post. You are just too good in providing words of wisdom. Really wonderful ways to overcome monotony and stay creative. "Learn from children" - that is soo true and my favorite.

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  22. Thanks Subho - for your inspiration when I think I should give up.

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  23. Wow,wonderful write up. Great post Mr.Das Gupta.Loads of creativity around us to get noticed. U r creatively gifted 2. Thanks for sharing

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  24. Wow,wonderful write up. Great post Mr.Das Gupta.Loads of creativity around us to get noticed. U r creatively gifted 2. Thanks for sharing

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  25. I like the point no 7,8,9 -always works for me. I appreciate the point about how creativity requires nurturing and how we as so called "creative" had that nurturing environment that similarly endowed people did not and are there not considered "creative"!!!

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  26. Can totally connect to: I am proud to belong to the old school. I am glad that I am a slow learner. I live my life deliberately, and love it. :D!

    I learnt something from each point. I think: disconnecting once in a while and listening to your voice, reading good books, papers, magazines and keeping company of people who are creative, humble, genuine helps as well.


    If you haven't, please read this book: A whack on the side of the head by Roger von Oech.

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  27. I just wish I do more of no.4 and no.9. And the others, too, but more so of those two. Sigh!

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