The Case for Creativity

Last year, I went to the Creativity Workshop. And I know what you’re thinking. Seriously? That’s a thing?

Yeah, it is. Amongst many other activities, we learned how to relax, practice free association and how to sketch out our thoughts using images and colors. We practiced perceiving things in our environment that we normally overlooked, envisioning potential and identifying connections.

Sounds like therapy, doesn’t it? It was, in a way. But it was much more than that.

When I returned from that workshop, I could sketch out a book outline in minutes. I’m not kidding. I started by drawing the central concept in the middle of the page, and then allowing the sub points to grow from the central concept. Then I connected certain sub points to one another, with connections I might easily have missed become crystal clear on my squiggly-looking, octopus-like drawing on the page.

I could practice the same with chapters themselves, or papers, or even work-related strategies. The strangest part was that it wasn’t stressful in the slightest bit. It was actually fun, and calming, and exciting all at the same time. When I was done, work didn’t feel like a burden, and my next steps were crystal clear.

When was the last time you went to a workshop and actually integrated anything you learned there into your life? For more than two weeks, that is? It’s been four months now, and I’m still using what I learned, with no intention of ever stopping. I’ve applied it not just to work, but my personal time management. The difference between priorities and inconsequential minutiae become crystal clear, I assure you.

It’s pretty well known that creativity relieves stress, increases and renews brain function, can prevent cognitive deterioration, improves mood and (can) cultivate your social life (get a more detailed account). But as I’ve learned, it can also improve your ability to perform well at work and, as an added bonus, it makes what you do more enjoyable.

I want to bust a myth, also. Creativity isn’t just for artists and writers. It is for literally everyone. Scientists, engineers, doctors, nurses, managers, servers, flight attendants. Everyone can employ creativity to their life and profession and feel the benefit.

With the advent of the new year, I decided to employ a daily dose of creativity in my life that wasn’t work-related in the slightest. In the midst of my professional nonfiction, factual writing, research and my ongoing communication work, I quite solemnly swore to myself that I would write a chapter of fiction each week and post it online. Just. For. Fun.

I would challenge you to do the same. Come up with something creative that you enjoy. And just do it. The benefits will start seeping into your life, both personal, and professional.

And I’m not going to tell you what to do. Be creative.

2 Comments

  1. How does this octopus thing work? I really want to do more creative writing but I always get hung up on story structure and give up. It sounds like it’s more about mapping themes than plot points?

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    1. This is a really quick rundown, because it’s easier to explain in person, but basically you take a blank sheet of paper (no lines, like a drawing pad) and try to clear your mind. Then you write down different pieces of a story, in no particular order at all. Just bubbles or squares or clouds or however you want to ‘frame’ them all across the page. Then you look at them, and try to identify what might be missing, and add more bubbles and squares. Finally, you THEN start to link them together with lines, and you may end up with lines all around and across the page, linking more than one thing.

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