As a kid, did you feel more creative? I did. I remember building, drawing, and dreaming up scenarios with my G.I. Joes and empty cardboard tubes. Playing and creativity go hand in hand when you’re a kid.
When I got a little older, I felt less creative and I realized that my drawings weren’t as good as other people’s. I felt my drawings never turned out the way I wanted them to. I would get upset because I had these preconceived ideas about what my art should look like, instead of focusing on the creative process.
I see now that I was judging my work. I wasn’t creating just for the sake of creating art. I was creating in the hopes of becoming as good as my friends. I was comparing myself and setting expectations that I couldn’t achieve.
“Negativity is the enemy of creativity.” – David Lynch
It wasn’t until I started performing improv that I began to understand how important it is not to judge the creativity of yourself or others. Improv helps with taking action on your instincts regardless of how silly, weird, or obscure they are.
Learning improv allowed me to remove the judgement I was placing on my ideas. I felt freer to create because I knew that there were no wrong answers. My teachers and teammates were supportive and constantly “yes, anding…” me. Having that type of support made it easier over time to remove my filter and act on impulse.
“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” – Erich Fromm
There’s an improv exercise called “Five Things” that forces you to do this. One person tells another person to name five things that “belong to a certain category.” For example “five things you’d find under your bed”, “five things you forgot to do today”, or “five things you have in your shoe”. The other person will name five things as quickly as they can, but the five things don’t have to be part of the category. This forces the person to just say the first things that come to their mind, right or wrong.
Here’s a way that helped me become more creative outside of improv:
Get out a piece of paper and a pen. Set a timer for two minutes. Write down everything (I do mean everything and anything) that comes to your mind. Allow yourself to brainstorm Do not judge or place a filter on yourself. You can also give yourself a topic to write about, but if you think of something way off topic, write it down anyway. Give yourself permission to fail to stay on topic. Try to push through that filter that you put on yourself. If you think of something that doesn’t fit or make sense, write it down.
We’re trying to remove that little voice in your head that’s telling you “NO! That’s not right.” The more you can silence that voice, the easier it will be to become more creative.
When I write something I’ll just start listing to all of the things or ideas that come to my mind in any order. just to get those ideas down on paper as soon as I think of them. Then, I’ll go back and then edit or rewrite those ideas so they make sense
“Art knows no prejudice, art knows no boundaries, art doesn’t really have judgement in it’s purest form. So just go, just go.” – K. D. Lang
I believe artists create for themselves but they need to have the ability to remove their filter and try new things over and over. They get better by seeing what works and doesn’t work. They free themselves from judgement and make things over and over. They fail and realize why they fail.
What’s holding you back from being creative? What could you accomplish if you knew you couldn’t fail?