Creativity is the most important skill of the 21st century, important for problem solving and for well being, but we sometimes forget that we are all creative creatures, it is one of the things that defines us as human, the ability to meet the world with a curious mind and creative responses. Sometimes we need to re-discover the open, curious, creative child that lives within us all. Just blogging is a creative act, or composing an image for Instagram.
Linkedin recently cited creativity as the most important skill in the world, describing it as the second most in demand skill, second only to cloud computing. Defining creativity as “problem solving with relevance and novelty”, something computers can’t do, (Petrone, 2019). We are witnessing the greatest revolution in work since the industrial revolution, with automation replacing a huge number of jobs, including knowledge workers. Automation is replacing everything from customer service to financial services. But do you know what machines are not good at? Imagination. Machines can’t think outside the box, they are the box. Machines do not respond to problems with novel solutions, only we can do that.
Just look at some of the creative ideas that have sprung up in answer to our current environmental problems. Like the challenge of plastic straws and the dreadful consequences of ocean pollution. Now you can get pasta straws, even natural grass straws, who knows where the necessity of invention will lead? Things like that illustrate the need for creative solutions to the challenges of modern living, they seem obvious but I didn’t think of them, so I am super impressed that someone did think of that as a solution. This example might seem simple and frivolous but it did strike me as a good creative solution, I thought metal straws were my only viable option, until someone pointed the above biodegradable options out to me. A bit off track, but I just wanted something to illustrate creative problem solving.
So embrace disruption and nurture your creativity. The future is in the hands of the creative.
Studies have shown that creative practice has a huge impact on health and well being, decreasing anxiety and depression, lowering blood pressure and even boosting immunity. A study on HIV infected patients, showed that using a writing practice improved the immune response of participants, (Stuckey & Nobel, 2010). So writing can even improve your immunity, another good reason to keep a journal. Studies on the effect of expressive writing also found positive outcomes in terms of pain management and depression. Scientific American reported that creativity can predict a longer life and other recent studies have demonstrated the positive impact of arts and artistic practice on cognitive function, demonstrating that an artistic practice of some kind during middle or older life can delay cognitive decline, (Rodriguez, 2012).
Considering we are all expected to live longer and with work expected to decrease with increasing automation, time on our hands will be an issue, given the health benefits I think we can be justified in giving some time to our inner child and re-discover our innate creativity, it might just result in a happier, more cognitively active old age.
Then there is just the sheer joy that being creative and playful can bring. One study found that engaging in creative activities contributed to overall positive emotions and overall well being. Creativity left study participants feeling enthusiastic and energised. Connecting the flow states of creativity with “flourishing and happiness”, (Conner, Deyoung, & Silvia, 2018). So just doing something creative can make you feel more positive in general and that can’t be a bad thing. Again a journal is a great tool for everyday creativity, no one but you sees it, you can use it to write or to doodle or draw, you don’t have to be good at either writing or drawing, in fact there is nothing more destructive than perfectionism. And nothing says your journal has to be an accurate narrative, you could have some fun and write a fictional, imagined journal. There is much joy in being playful and creative, where could it take you.
Books to Inspire Creativity:
Just thought it might be worthwhile to put out a list of cool books to inspire creativity, many of these titles would be available in libraries, certainly many are available in my library. Creativity is a trendy field of research and a bit of a buzz word at the moment so I am just providing a couple of titles of texts I have read on creativity or a title that inspires creativity.
inGenius : a crash course on creativity by Tina Seelig
Creativity is necessary for leading a successful and fulfilling life. Creative solutions are required because the status quo is never good enough, and our goal should always be to push beyond the limits of what seems possible. Great ideas are needed to solve all the problems we face and to enrich our lives. With the tools presented in the following chapters, we will learn how to take on the challenges, big and small, that come our way, and to see that every word, every idea, and every moment provides an opportunity for creativity that will enhance our lives. The first half of the book focuses on the inside out–what you can personally do to increase your own creative aptitude and attitude. The second half deals with the outside in–how you can change the local and cultural environment to increase the creativity quotient of your community.–From publisher description.
A good simple introduction to the most important skill of the 21st century.
Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by by Scott Barry Kaufman, Carolyn Gregoire
Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research and Carolyn Gregoire’s popular article in the Huffington Post, Wired to Create offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Revealing the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, along with engaging examples of artists and innovators throughout history, the book shines a light on the practices and habits of mind that promote creative thinking. Kaufman and Gregoire untangle a series of paradoxes– like mindfulness and daydreaming, seriousness and play, openness and sensitivity, and solitude and collaboration – to show that it is by embracing our own contradictions that we are able to tap into our deepest creativity. Each chapter explores one of the ten attributes and habits of highly creative people:
Imaginative Play * Passion * Daydreaming * Solitude * Intuition * Openness to Experience * Mindfulness * Sensitivity * Turning Adversity into Advantage * Thinking Differently
Really enjoyed reading this one and found the neuroscience behind creativity fascinating.
A fantastic book on creative writing and a wonderfully inspiring book filled with fantastic images is:
Wonderbook (Revised and Expanded) : an illustrated guide to creating imaginative fiction, by Jeff VanderMeer
“This all-new definitive guide to writing imaginative fiction takes a completely novel approach and fully exploits the visual nature of fantasy through original drawings, maps, renderings, and exercises to create a spectacularly beautiful and inspiring object. Employing an accessible, example-rich approach, Wonderbook energizes and motivates while also providing practical, nuts-and-bolts information needed to improve as a writer. Aimed at aspiring and intermediate-level writers, Wonderbook includes helpful sidebars and essays from some of the biggest names in fantasy today, such as George R. R. Martin, Lev Grossman, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Catherynne M. Valente, and Karen Joy Fowler, to name a few”–
Welcome to Wonderbook. Before you begin, check your supplies. Make sure you have plenty of water, food, and at least some mountaineering equipment. Get lots of sleep. Always carry pen and paper with you; you never know when that electronic device will give up the ghost. Remember, too, that knowledge of the languages of strange talking animals is a plus when going on a real adventure. So study up. And always— always— keep your wits about you. Now, strengthen your resolve . . . Ready? You’re about to plunge into the middle of . . . everything .
VanderMeer, Jeff. Wonderbook (Revised and Expanded) : The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, Abrams, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/usq/detail.action?docID=5433913.
Created from usq on 2019-10-31 20:02:06.
Really loved this book and VanderMeer has great writing credentials as one of the grand masters of fantasy and new weird.
Just one last book on my current creative inspiration list is one of my all time favourite journals. I love it, because I find the naivety of the art particularly inspiring:
The diary of Frida Kahlo : an intimate self-portrait by Frida Kahlo, Carlos Fuentes (Introduction), Sarah M. Lowe (Introduction)
Published here in its entirety, Frida Kahlo’s amazing illustrated journal documents the last ten years of her turbulent life. This passionate, often surprising, intimate record, kept under lock and key for some forty years in Mexico, reveals many new dimensions in the complex persona of this remarkable Mexican artist.
Covering the years 1944-45, the 170-page journal contains Frida’s thoughts, poems, and dreams, and reflects her stormy relationship with her husband, Diego Rivera, Mexico’s famous artist. The seventy watercolor illustrations in the journal – some lively sketches, several elegant self-portraits, others complete paintings – offer insights into her creative process, and show her frequently using the journal to work out pictorial ideas for her canvases.
So what’s stopping you, go out and do something creative today or even just find some time to read a book that inspires you to think more creatively. What inspires you? What books, what other things? I would love to know, so leave me a comment and share your inspiration.
“The creative adult is the child who survived.” — Ursula Le Guin
Conner, T. S., Deyoung, C. G., & Silvia, P. J. (2018). Everyday creative activity as a path to flourishing. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13(2).
Petrone, P. (2019, January ). Why Creativity is the Most Important Skill in the World. Retrieved 2019, from Linked in The Learning Blog: https://learning.linkedin.com/blog/top-skills/why-creativity-is-the-most-important-skill-in-the-world
Rodriguez, T. (2012, September). Creativity Predicts a Longer Life. Retrieved from Scientific American: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/open-mind-longer-life/
Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). The connection between art, healing, and public health: a review of current literature. The American Journal of Public Health, 100(2).