Your Creative Brain

#YourCreativeSelf Series Part 2

Reviewing selections of “Brain Storm: Unleashing Your Creative Self” by Don Hahn

Last month’s blog on the Foundations in Creative Thinking briefly touched on the topic that we have creative brains that seek and hunt for ideas. Hahn beautifully and adventurously describes creativity with this quote:

“Creativity beckons us to jump into the void — to shine a light into the darkness and risk following a new idea.”

I’m ready to jump, but wait…I have to accomplish “x,y, and z” before I allow myself to even turn on the flashlight to take a peek at the void. So, the question is: How do we do that? How do we accomplish the thousands of daily tasks required of us while finding time to sleep, eat, exercise, and be creative? How do we get to the point where we can confidently jump into that void to follow that idea? Lucky for us, Hahn has a few suggestions related to managing your desire to be creative and the action you take to be creative:

How to Build a Creative Environment:

1. Manage Your Do’er and Your Dreamer

When it comes to being creative, we want to let the dreamer out to play. Creating balance between your task oriented half (the do’er) and your creative half (the dreamer) should help. Like exercise, Hahn recommends 30 minutes of daily dreaming, because getting the dreamer and do’er to work together is “one of the first steps toward reawakening the creative spirit.”

Tip #1: Set aside regular, large chunks of time for the practice of dreaming, brainstorming, new ideas, sketches, and creative thinking.

2. Find a Safe Place for Creative Exchange

Hahn uses the concept of the “Lizard Brain” (a concept describing the primitive, survival reactions of the brain) to describe that we all have a deeply imbedded way of communicating new ideas…and our ways of communication are usually edited to save face and eliminate embarrassment. To battle the inevitable feelings of rejection, Hahn recommends finding a safe place — safe from reproach — where you can let your ideas out to mingle with others.

Tip #2: Set up or find a studio, lab, library, or other space that’s dedicated to said dreaming and creative pursuits. Whether you work alone or with others, use this new found time and space to build your ideas and body of work to a level in which you’re confident in sharing.

 3. Build Your Creative Renaissance

We all need time to dream (and simply think) to even begin to create, but it’s hard to tell the task-oriented do’er within each of us to calm down and relax (*but seriously, I have 10,000 things to get done*). However hard it may seem, just know that it’s possible. Consider this quote from Hahn:

“Certain cultures were great breeding grounds of creative thought and action. Just think what it must have been like to be living in the highly creative culture of ancient Greece, Florence in the Renaissance, or Paris during the nineteenth century. Those great epochs of creativity grew from times of relative prosperity, when people had ample leisure time to devote to reading, painting, and debate. The personal challenge, then, is to carve out time for your own creative renaissance to take place — time for your dreamer to dream deep, long, satisfying dreams.”

While this scenario seems a little unfair (they seem to have been loaded with time for creative thinking and dreaming!), as these older civilizations may not have had the to-do lists, meetings, play dates, and the plethora of other scheduled tasks that we do, remember that they didn’t have our abundant access to knowledge (the internet for one), and their life expectancies were much shorter than today — giving them less time in life to explore their creativity. Basically, there’s still hope for us 21st century dreamers.

Tip #3: Cultivate your inner-dreamer through the lifelong habit of constant and regular dreaming. Let’s make a pact to make the act of dreaming/brainstorming/new ideas a habit.

How to Cultivate the Dreamer:

  1. One way to cultivate the dreamer is to not let your brain get bored! As Hahn states:

“We all have very real limitations on our time, and consequently, limited on the number of things that we can attend to. And it’s important to do some cerebral housecleaning by eliminating boring things. Our brain hates being bored, so bypass the boring and look for the energy.”

  1. Sleep. It’s a real thing. Your brain needs sleep in order to think, so let’s get us some “zzzz’s.”
  2. Stay positive. Stay practiced. Some of us know we have a creative side, while others state they can barely draw a stick figure. Personally, I think that creativity is a skill that requires practice — in both thought and handiwork. For those of you who think you don’t have an ounce of creative juice in your body, consider that you just haven’t summoned it yet. Another possibility is that your perception of creativity is defined and limited to producing something in the field of the arts. And while the arts are a natural field to think of, remember that each field within the arts requires years of dedicated practice— just like every trade of skill. Furthermore, just like the arts, almost every field requires creative thinkers, especially if they want to advance products and knowledge, increase levels of customer satisfaction, solve issues and problems, and more. If you still don’t believe that every trade needs a creative thinker, consider these examples (from trades not easily thought of as creative):
  • A car mechanic uses problem solving skills to diagnose and resolve vehicle issues (expected or not). Additionally, the dealership management thinks of new ways to increase customer satisfaction, including: deals, marketing, and the comfort of customer waiting areas.
  • A plumber needs to separate himself from the competition and attract new customers. To appeal to younger and tech-savvy customers, the plumber updates his marketing strategy with a new website, an appealing social media presence, and other marketing tools.
  • The scientist thinks, “What if I do this…” That’s how science works, seriously.
  • A doctor works on staying up-to-date with medical news, findings, and studies, but thinks, “How do I make my patients feel more comfortable in my office?” Along with creativity working on his bedside humor, the doctor decides to figure out how he/she should redesign the waiting room and patient rooms to create a soothing, peaceful, and CLEAN atmosphere.
  • After researching the latest and the greatest in fashion, a retail shop owner tries to make store layouts, models, storefront windows, marketing materials, and more enticing enough to make you enter the store and find something you can’t live without.

Hopefully you get the idea from these few, basic examples. In reality, there are endless examples — and many that are likely better than these. However, it’s important to stay positive and realize that your trade does offer a form of creativity thinking. Once you realize what it is, the next step is to practice it. For more tips and advice on how to cultivate the dreamer locked away inside your creative brain, follow Smarter Searches and #YourCreativeSelf on social media.

Stay tuned for next month’s blog in this series: The Creative Process is More Important than the End Result

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