Article and imagery contributed by Emily Johnson.
“Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it.”
– Dee Hock
If I gave you a piece of paper and a pencil, and asked you to draw love, what would you do? Would you be dumbstruck, lost or speechless? Argue that love is impossible to draw? After all, it’s shapeless, non-material, so it can’t be seen or touched. It’s a feeling. One that can be experienced, not drawn on a piece of paper. Or, can it?
A creative person would tell you that there are thousands of ways to draw love. It all depends on what love means to you. For example, we see love in a mother who cuddles her crying baby even though she hasn’t slept for days. We see it also in a young couple on a railway station who froze in a hug for half an hour, not wanting to let go of each other. Love is like two pieces of puzzles fitting perfectly together or a lion protecting a sheep. It’s all around us!
Right. How stupid and uncreative of you to think that love can’t be depicted. Do you feel like a failure now? If yes, then you need to stop! The fact that you couldn’t figure out how to depict love doesn’t mean you’re silly or uncreative. It means that you’re a victim of creativity killers and need to eradicate them so as to get your creative juices flowing.
Let’s check what hinders your creativity and what you can do about it. Ready to begin?
Load… Aim… Fire!
15 Creativity Killers (+ Some Ways To Get Rid Of Them):
“Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
– Albert Einstein
When you make decisions or form opinions based solely on logic, unawares, you’re limiting yourself. In order to become creative, you need to look beyond common standards, patterns and reality. You need to learn that life is ambiguous and so, connect what’s unconnectable, find order in chaos and question everything.
If logic is your constraint, you can escape it by stepping outside of your comfort zone. Do common things differently, just because you can. You can also start admiring surrealism. It will help you to look at the world from a different perspective, inspire you and unleash your creativity.
“The seed of your next artwork lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece.”
– David Bayles
Perfectionism is a monster that creeps into your life and keeps you from taking risks, challenging yourself or adapting to new ideas. It also encourages you to procrastinate and makes it harder for you to reach your goals. When you’re a perfectionist, there’s always a nagging voice in your head telling you that what you’ve written, painted or designed isn’t good enough. Thus, you’re unable to spread your wings.
In order to unblock your creativity, inventiveness and playfulness, you need to change the way you think about what’s perfect. Remember, nothing is ever flawless. Also, learn to like yourself and your work. Don’t worry what other people say and don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, focus on your own feelings.
#3 Following Rules.
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
– Pablo Picasso
Rules aren’t your enemies. However, they aren’t your friends either. On the one hand, rules bring order to your work. On the other, they restrict your passions. So, how can you follow guidelines if you have to and yet, be creative?
The best way to increase your creativity is to begin your work by following standards and rules. Then, when you feel they are no longer helping you, break them. Only by doing so can you produce artwork.
Learn from such artists like Picasso who mastered realism, but moved to cubism because it was more inspirational and allowed him to better express himself. Thus, don’t be scared of experimentation! It will pay off.
“How can you hear your soul if everyone is talking?”
– Mary Doria Russell, Children of God
According to Graham Wallas, the author of The Art of Thought, the creative process involves four steps:
- Preparation: the investigation of a creative problem,
- Incubation: unconscious processing of the problem,
- Illumination: the “Eureka!” moment,
- Verification: our unique insight is verified by others.
Although all of the above stages are important, the third stage, incubation, is critical to creativity. During that period an artist spends time alone, lets his or her mind wander, loses him or herself in daydreaming. As a result, he or she starts coming up with unique ideas.
Thus, if you want to be creative, you need to start spending time alone. Embrace the gift of solitude. For example, you can take a solitary walk in a forest or practice meditation and let your mind wander.
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
– Albert Einstein
The Internet is full of articles on how to organize your home studio, why mess hinders productivity and why we should own less to be happier. We’re encouraged to keep order at home, at work and even, on our phones and laptops. The question is, does it increase our creativity?
Did you know that when Einstein died, a photographer took a picture of his home office? Any ideas on how it looked like? There was a total chaos. Papers, journals, books and envelopes were everywhere, and yet, Einstein was highly creative. What do we learn from it? Well, we learn that in order to maximize your creativity, you need to embrace disorder and clutter. Since creative geniuses had messy desks, so should you.
“The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers.”
– Sydney J. Harris
It can’t be denied that technology makes our lives easier and more comfortable. However, its advancement brought to life new addictions. Many of us can no longer imagine a day without checking Facebook, playing video games or watching one TV series after another. No wonder we stopped being creative. We’ve neither time nor possibility to be.
According to research, technology inhibits creativity because it takes our time away from other types of activities such as reading, playing an instrument or painting – i.e. activities that can stimulate our creativity more than the Internet, video games or television.
What’s the solution? Go offline, watch less TV and engage in activities that don’t involve the use of technology.
#7 Lack of Resourcefulness.
“It’s not the lack of resources, it’s your lack of resourcefulness that stops you.”
– Tony Robbins
In order to become a painter, you need paints, many canvases and brushes. If you want to be a writer, you need a good laptop. If you dream about composing and playing music, you need musical instruments. Thus, you cannot be creative if you don’t have necessary tools to engage in creative activities.
At this point I‘d like to make something clear. Not everyone starts his or her life with money, the right connections or privileges. Most of us have to find a need and fill it. Thus, lack of resources should never be your excuse for not being creative. If you don’t have something, figure out a way to get it. Be resourceful!
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.”
– Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden
Did you know that optimists are more likely to keep on gambling after losing money? When things go wrong they don’t blame themselves as much as pessimists do. Thus, they are more eager to keep on trying, again and again, even though they fail.
Now, in order to be creative you need to embrace failure and have courage to try again. How can you do that? Well, the best advice I can give you here is, don’t take failure personally. Expect it to happen. Learn from it. Let it motivate you.
Thus, every time you’re unsuccessful, tell yourself that next time you’ll do better.
“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why.”
– Bernard Baruch
Do you know why children are highly creative? Because they desire to know everything, question rules and standards, want to experience life fully and never stop being curious and asking questions.
Many artists, scientists and doctors agree that curiosity fuels creativity. If you’re not curious, you don’t have enough motivation to pursue success or career. You also won’t be able to unleash your inner artist. Thus, in order to be more creative, you need to stop being indifferent and start being curious about the world around. So, unravel secrets and get inspired. It will increase your creativity.
#10 Lack of Time.
“It’s not about having time, it’s about making time.”
I understand that you’re busy. I understand you have a lot of things to do. Kids, work, home. You barely have time to sleep, not to mention having time for yourself. I understand you completely.
However, if you want to be more creative, you need to engage in creative activities and you won’t be able to do that if you always complain you have no time. Let go of your hectic schedule! Stop being in a hurry! You’ll miss on living and enjoying life. So, change your schedule today and fit in there some alone time.
A day has 24 hours. I won’t believe you’re not able to find an hour for yourself.
#11 Comparing Yourself To Others.
“The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.”
Joshua Becker, a founder of Becoming Minimalist makes very interesting points about comparing yourself to others. He reminds us that:
- Comparisons are unfair (we’re often beginners and tend to compare ourselves to experts),
- Comparisons require metrics (only a fool believes everything can be measured),
- Comparisons put focus on the wrong individual (you should focus on yourself instead of the lives of others).
Moreover, by comparing yourself to others you gain nothing. You only lose your dignity, pride, motivation, passion as well as self-esteem. That leads to depression.
What about creativity? Well, how can you unleash your creativity if you set your standards high and aspire to be a perfectionist? You can’t. Thus, if you’ve already fallen into the trap of endless social comparisons and don’t know how to escape it, try changing the way you think.
Would you agree that your work is unique? If yes, then tell me, since it’s unique, how can you possibly compare it to the works of other people? Think about it.
#12 Doing What You Hate.
“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Can you be creative doing something you hate? No, you cannot. Creativity requires inspiration, passion, numerous hours spent on one project, constant investigations and a huge dose of curiosity as well as experimentation. Now, let’s be honest, if you do something you don’t enjoy, minutes turn into hours, you get bored easily and want to finish your work as soon as you can. That decreases creativity. In order to maximize it, you need to engage in activities you like.
Most artists admit they are highly creative when they’re in the zone, when time collapses and you forget about the world around. Then, you produce artwork. Thus, don’t complain you’re not creative if you do what you hate. Instead, find your passion and spend more time doing what you love.
#13 Fear of Failure.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill
If you consider the most creative people, you can see that they don’t take failure personally. It also doesn’t stop them. Think about Stephen King and his first novel, Carrie. Did you know that thirty publishers rejected it? Did Stephen King give up on writing, then? No, he didn’t. He kept on writing because that was what he loved. Eventually, he became successful.
If fear of failure is keeping you back, stop asking yourself what will happen if you fail. Instead, ask yourself, what if you win? What if you succeed? Remember, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
#14 Fear of Criticism.
“I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.”
– Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Every artist knows that his or her work will be criticized once they share it. It’s only natural. After all, you cannot please everyone. If the fear of criticism is your Achilles’ heel, don’t worry! There’s a rescue.
First of all, embrace the fact that you will be criticized. Everyone does. That’s nothing outstanding. Second, not every criticism is bad. Some people, when they assess your work, point out your mistakes so that you didn’t repeat them in your future work. They want to help you develop your skills and make progress. Third, if you receive criticism from a person who knows nothing about your area of expertise or from a person who’s simply mean, ignore them. Don’t lose your strength fighting stupidity.
#15 Fear of Taking Risks.
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
At some point in our lives, we’re all afraid of taking a risk. It might be because we have much to lose. It might be because we’ve never done something before. Or, because what we dream of doing is novel and crazy. Something no one ever tried before. That can be scary.
However, if the fear of taking risks stops you from spreading your wings, you will never gain anything. Creative people know that without risk taking, they won’t produce anything special or unique. Does it mean that they managed to overcome their fear entirely? No, it doesn’t. The fear of risk taking never goes away. They feel it, and yet, do what they have to do anyway.
Artists know that by risk taking they can lose a lot, but also gain a lot. Their desire to succeed is stronger than the fear. Thus, they risk.
Learn from them.
Wrapping It Up
Although there are many creativity killers, all can be overcome. You can either let them control your life or eradicate them. It’s up to you. But, remember that you will never be highly creative if you cannot spread your wings.
So, find your freedom!
About the author: Emily Johnson is a blogger and a content strategist at OmniPapers.com. She is also a contributor to many websites about personality psychology, career advice, productivity, remote work, as well as blogging and writing. You can always find more works of hers on Twitter.