We’ve talked about creativity before and how creative blocks affect people deeply.
Today, we’re diving deep into creativity and how to explore it to the best of our abilities.
Is there a magic formula to learn it and become inherently more creative What about those people who seem better at it? They must know all the creative techniques, right?
Luckily for us, Dr. David Eagleman, an American neuroscientist, decided to study the process of creativity on the Human brain. He shares his conclusions in The Creative Brain documentary, now available on Netflix.
Our brain is what sets us apart from other animals. It’s why we’re called rational, and the reason we have been evolving and will continue to do so in the future.
The same way we use our brains to think logically, we do it creatively as well.
Creativity is how mankind changed the world in every single way, and it’s the reason why, every day, something new is born.
A misconception about it, and one that I’m also guilty of, it’s to talk about certain professions – like designers – as creatives and the Creativity Industry.
There is no such thing. All humans are creatives, regardless of their profession, status, and demographics.
In the Creative Brain, Eagleman demonstrates exactly this point.
Musicians, scientists, architects, actors, writers, and even teachers. He talks to all of these professionals, who have different backgrounds and stories, and proves that creativity can (and does) exist everywhere.
In that sense, we should make an effort to stop considering some people more creative than others, and learn how we can potentiate our own creativity.
The Creative process
It all starts in our brain in the prefrontal cortex.
Unlike other animals, our brain expanded over time. That allowed for the separation between the place where we receive inputs and the outputs.
While animals react with an automatic response to an input, we can take some time in acknowledging it.
The expansion of the human brain gives us the capacity to consider all the options before we act.
It allows us to process information to form new ideas, to mix it up with already existing ones, and to make new considerations.
It’s this ability that allows us to create, invent and imagine new things that don’t exist yet. It’s how Humanity evolves.
On many of this documentary’s interviews, different people claim that they draw inspiration from other sources to develop their own work. This is intentionally mentioned so that viewers can see that originality is a myth.
Being original, and therefore, creative, doesn’t mean that we have to create something out of nothing, as Eagleman states. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
To be original is to take something we already know, and make it unique. How? By taking something that already exists, and mixing it with our own experiences. We are a unique factor because our brain is also unique.
Creativity as a healing power
Why is it that sometimes we feel so down when we have a creative block? When we’re bored and stuck in the same routine?
The reason is simple, lack of creative outputs.
This doesn’t mean that you need to start painting or doing ceramics. Creativity can take different shapes and forms, but it means you have to do something.
Our brain looks for exciting, new things because older ones become boring over time. Repetition will make you unhappy.
Although isn’t something that can be taught, creativity is something that can be stimulated. There are three ways we can take advantage of our brain to lead to a creative path.
1) Getting off the path of the least resistance
Our brain can take up to 20% of our energy when we’re engaging in some activity. As a result, we get tired and hungry more easily.
To contradict that, it takes the path of least resistance, which means that it tries to really on things we already know. By reproducing what we have done many times, we don’t have to spend much time or energy on them.
It’s pure brain laziness.
So the first way to be more creative is to dig deeper and to try something new, something out of the ordinary.
Although we live in a world where specialization is required and awarded, it also comes at a cost. Over time, people learn less and less, until they don’t seek anything new to learn.
2) Pushing boundaries
As we already mentioned, the brain craves for novelty and excitement.
But like it’s referred in the documentary, if you produce something too challenging, no one is going to understand it.
The trick with this tip is that you need to explore possibilities. Mix what’s familiar with something new or unexpected and see where it leads you.
A good way for designers to do this is to combine online and offline techniques, or to bring knowledge from other disciplines into the design world.
3) Leaving the fear of failure behind
This is a state that most people experience, and that prevents them from going further.
The reality, however, is that most successful people have failed a lot previously. Because without failure, there isn’t a learning process. Without failure, there isn’t a way to tell want else can be explored, and what’s worth experimenting.
Failure is the first attempt in learning something. It’s what leads to new creative approaches, regardless of the outcome.
So, even though it’s embarrassing, nerve-racking, and ego bruising, it’s a great creative tool.
There’s a lot to reflect on this documentary.
The way we face creativity as a higher, unreachable, divine inspiration, prevents us from actually putting it to practice. That, and fear. The irrational conviction that everyone else knows more, and it’s better than us.
In reality, creativity is about getting out and using what’s around us to generate new designs, new narratives based on our own perceptions.
Creativity belongs to all of us, so why don’t we use it more?