The wonderfully creative Martha Graham said, “There is only one of you in all time. This expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and it will be lost.”
Sharing your unique creative gifts with the world sounds wonderful, but it's not always easy. Self-expression brings up feelings of vulnerability. Creativity can be hard to tap into.
If you were given messages in childhood about your lack of creativity you may be thinking, “I have no creative gifts.” Messages about needing to do things right, avoid mistakes, and leave art to the “real artists” build up a strong inner critic and cut us off from creativity.
How Can We Unblock Our Creative Self-Expression?
One of the fastest ways to get past your inner critic and spark creativity is to evoke a sense of curiosity and play. Once our minds are centered in curiosity, new pathways for connections and possibilities open up.
To get you going on creative experimenting, I am going to give you my favorite question to spark creative thought:
I wonder what would happen if…? This is a particularly useful question when it comes to giving yourself permission to experiment and dabble when you're creating. It is a question that invites play and curiosity. Use it to create all kinds of interesting creativity sparking questions like: I wonder what would happen if I started without knowing the right first step?
15 More Questions to Spark Creativity:
- What would the very rough version of this look like?
- What happens if I try this with my eyes closed?
- Who could I collaborate with on this?
- What do I need to see? What message do I need to read?
- What do I wish someone would tell me about this?
- What does this look like upside down?
- Can we mix THIS with THAT?
- Is it time to take a little break and come back to this later?
- How would it be to just let myself do this all wrong?
- What if I turn on music while I do this?
- What happens if I work on this for 10 minutes without any judgment or stopping?
- What's a constraint I can use for this? Ideas could be: only use two colors, complete this in under an hour, use your non-dominant hand, etc.
- How could I practice without having to make a final product?
- Concentrate on physical sensations. What does the brush feel like on the paper? Or how does the music you're playing vibrate through your chest?
- What's an experiment I can try with this?
Curiosity Helps Spark Creativity
When we try unfamiliar things, it's natural for them to feel scary. Our brains love the familiar. Creativity naturally involves scary feelings as we try things we don’t know and put together new ideas. If you can take on a feeling of curiosity, it can help you move through the scary feelings and allow you to try something new. You don't have to take on something completely-wildly unfamiliar.
The first step in becoming a more creative thinker is allowing yourself to experiment just outside your current comfort zone. It might be doodling in your journal. It might be trying a new hobby just to see what connections it sparks. The more practice you get at this, the stronger your creativity will grow, and eventually, you will easily be able to say a big fat “YES, I AM CREATIVE!”