Thinking Creatively

I’ve been giving thought to creative thinking. I’ve always found it interesting that, though “Creatives” (artists, musicians, writers, etc.), tend to think differently, this is to say that generally, we are not linear thinkers and are more broad thinkers, we are not necessarily creative thinkers.

Wait, what!!? These are people who express themselves through creative means, how can they not be creative thinkers?

What I’ve noticed after working with and leading other creatives for many years is that though we are being creative, we can be very rigid in our thought processes used to create the final piece (myself included). Always approaching the piece from the same point of view, and in turn, approaching any other problem to be solved the same way.

I like to term it as creative thinking vs. thinking creatively. Creative thinking is when we are thinking about what it is we want to create or express, thinking creatively, on the other hand, means looking past what is directly in view to the open wilderness. It is breaking through our self-imposed barriers and turning our thinking on its side so that we have a different view.

When I was in the corporate setting, I heard all too often, “This is how it’s always been done,” or when meeting with members of the design team I led, and would ask what we can do to make our experience in the workplace more fulfilling, I would get blank stares or the immediate response or complaint about all that is wrong with “others.” These are a couple examples of what I mean by self-imposed barriers.

On the other hand, when we are thinking creatively, we can turn our view on its side and look at the problem to be solved from a different angle. As an example, I’m going to tell you a story that I have told many times before that illustrates this very well. I have always preferred printmaking and painting to express myself when creating fine art pieces. However, painting had always been a struggle for me, whereas, printmaking came to me naturally. As a result, I found myself wasting many canvases and much paint. I would always ask myself “What am I doing wrong or why doesn’t this work for me?” One day when I decided to create a new painting that I had an idea for I sat in front of the canvas, and as I was about to begin mixing my colors I stopped and asked myself, “What is it I do differently when I am printmaking versus what I do when I am painting?” This changed everything for me. By asking what I do differently as opposed to asking what it was I was doing wrong, I was able to think about my approach to painting in a very different way. So though these are very different media, I can now approach them in the same fashion and I no longer struggle to achieve the results I am looking for when painting.

This one change of view opened up a different way of thinking for me and has changed my perspective tremendously. I no longer look at the right and wrong way to do something, or the better or worse way, instead I look at what can be done differently. This replaces the negative thought process with positive thinking.

So, when we think creatively we look beyond our norms, remove our self-imposed barriers and give ourselves room to fully breathe and expand so we can see all the possibilities before us. Doing so opens up an almost infinite amount of the options and opportunities. It is then that the world we live in becomes so much more amazing, always filled with wonder, a willingness to explore and build an incredible life for ourselves.

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