Monday, July 12, 2021


 There’s a theory that everyone is born with in innate sense of creativity.  As babies grow into toddlers, and toddlers grow into school age children, they have within them a sense of adventure and curiosity.  As they discover and learn, they take great joy in creating, whether it’s coloring, drawing, painting, singing, dancing, or making castles out of Legos. 

That same theory posits that as we grow into adulthood, we’re often urged to forget our creative side and conform.  Buckle down, do what’s necessary, make money.  

But that creative spark, though dampened, lives on in all of us.  It may come back out in the form of a hobby, tending a garden, making a special dinner, or redecorating a room.

This weekend my wife and I had an outstanding dinner at the house of two friends of ours.  In addition to a delightful meal, the conversation was thought provoking.  We talked about food (of course), home remodeling, a smattering of politics, watching your adult children evolve, and ghosts.  Yes, ghosts.

We also had a very interesting discussion about creativity.

We can save our discussion on ghosts for another blog.

Being of a certain age, we all had former lives and are all redefining ourselves.  One of us was a concert pianist who performed all over the world.  Her husband was a noteworthy magazine publisher.  Now they own a boutique hotel here on the coast, in a historic little town right on the waterfront.  They’ve redecorated, upgraded, installed a 21st Century computer and reservation system, and began a marketing program that includes sophisticated usage of social media. 

Additionally, they buy fixer-upper homes, make them look pretty, and sell them, moving on to the next project.  

They’ve traded one set of creative skills for another.  

My wife was at one time a very successful market research analysist who had done work for major corporations all over the world.  She’s retired now, and during our discussion, wondered what her creative superpower might be. 

During our earlier discussion, we talked about her enjoyment of genealogy and how it led to her discovery of a brother she never knew she had.  It’s an amazing story that I may share on another occasion.  But the conclusion we reached was Cindy’s creative superpower was in her curiosity.  She’s a discoverer—an explorer. 

Mine is that I’m a crime novelist and I make stuff up.  Being a novelist has always been a dream of mine.

I read where the definition of creativity is: Transforming your ideas, dreams, and imagination into reality. 

An article from Huffington Post cited a recent New Zealand study which says that “engaging in creative activities contributes to an “upward spiral” of positive emotions, psychological well-being, and feelings of “flourishing” in life.”

The Pacific Standard Magazine cited another study conducted at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro on college students that says that “those who reported feeling happy and active were more likely to be doing something creative at the time.”

When I think about it, the happiest people I know are the ones who are creating and/or exploring—trying new things. 

So, what do you do to get your creative spark fired up?

I take a walk around our neighborhood or up to the beach.  I find that by the time I get back, I have a fresh perspective on what I’m currently working on.

Here are some other suggestions I found on the web:

Keep a journal and jot down ideas as they occur to you.


Take a media break.

Read a book.

Don’t be afraid to play.  Thomas Edison’s notebooks and Alexander Graham Bell’s prototypes suggest that they played while working. 

Take a break from your daily routine.

Try to think about things and look at the world around you in a different way. 

And finally—I like this one the best—dare to dream!


Rick Blechta said...

Terrific post, Tom! Thanks so much -- and there will be a response from me (as soon as I can write it.

Tanya said...

I second that this is a great post. Since my day job is as an editor, I struggle with making the shift from that more rational and logical type of brain function to the more open, more flexible perspective that is needed for creative writing. Your suggestions are helpful... I agree that physically moving to a different setting, even if only a different room or being outside, can prompt the muse.

Many people seem to be able to think and write in busy, noisy settings such as coffeeshops, but that is way too much distraction for some of us. I need peace and quiet, and somewhere beautiful like a park, riverside, or a beach is great as long as no one else is close by.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing!! Your post reminded me of a great tale about Albert Einstein. It seems he hit a snag on his way to solving the theory of, he stepped away from his pencil and picked up his bow and fiddle. After practicing a violin part in something Mozart, his light bulb went off and VOILA! - E=mc2 came into be. Sometimes, I find that living in the ‘other side of the brain’ opens doorways we never knew existed.