Monday 19 May 2008

Encouraging Creativity

I find that one of the hardest things in my life should be one of the easiest. That is to stop. If I’m not at work, I’m preparing for work. If I’m not at home, I’m planning the time I have with my children and husband. I don’t just go home at the end of the work day, I stop off for groceries we don’t need or something for Little Lady or have a peek in the charity shop to see what books have come in. I don’t just sit and have lunch, I surf the net a little, write a little or catch up on chores or visit the library. When I need to go have a lie down, I take a book or my notebook with me.

I have written before about this incessant need to DO something all of the time. I only write about it again because I find it interesting how in doing so much we end up doing less of what is worth doing and productive. I’m coming to the realization that this mind-set is counterproductive.

I was flicking through a few books on creativity this weekend and I found the same essential message in each – that if we stop and have some down-time the creativity kicks in itself. As Abraham Maslow puts it:

“The key question isn't "What fosters creativity?" But it is why in God's name isn't everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything.”

This indicates that creativity is not only innate, but not so much something that you have to work at as something that is always there if you don’t inhibit it. A good example is in child’s play. We see children exercising their creativity through role-play and imaginary friends. Their ideas, made-up words and questions are endless – and it flows naturally without any prompting or trying too hard. The point is that when we stop doing and rest or play, we give our brain half a chance to process all of the ideas, knowledge, images and thoughts we have been cramming into our head and make some sense of them.

That’s when the idea’s start to flow – things to do with the kids, things that I just have to write about, recipes, an idea for a card or bracelet, a new way to organize something in my home, a new approach to work issues. I just need to make sure I have my trusty little notebook somewhere not too far away.


  1. Anonymous19 May, 2008

    I believe a Woman's mind always keeps thinking, planning ahead of things, her mind is always full of thoughts. I also have that habit of always 'doing' something, and there's no end to work too, there's always something somewhere that needs our attention, or us.

  2. Assalam-alaikam Mona,
    I agree that our minds never stop and its true that someone always needs us. Even in the quiet times when the kids are in bed and hubby's out there is plenty to do. But I wonder if it should be that way or we should just switch off sometimes? I guess one way I have of doing this is day-dreaming (I could be an olympic champion at that).

    I'm sure men are not like this - they either think some or do some, but not as much of both at the same time as us.