Most of us don’t have the luxury of spending our days being creative, and even people who do work in a creative field often seek new ways to express themselves. While we’re champions of the #iamcreative movement, many shy away from creativity all together, thinking their brain just doesn’t work that way. Get ready for everything you thought you knew about creativity to be turned on its head. Filmmaker Barnet Bain’s new book, The Book of Doing and Being ($16), will help you rediscover your creative side — or even just find it for the very first time. Intrigued, we chatted with him about tips and tricks for improving our creativity.
Creativity: Nature Versus Nurture
If you’re envious of friends who can paint or turn flower arranging into a profound art, and are convinced you weren’t born with any creative abilities, Bain has news for you. “Everyone is born with innate creative abilities,” he tells us. The problem is, people around us as kids or young adults sometimes squash our creative spirits. “Re-awakening our imaginations is a rebellious act,” Bain says. “Fortunately it’s in our power.” It’s never too late to rediscover the creative side of yourself.
Making Time to Be Creative
But how exactly do you discover your creative side? Luckily, Bain says it helps to get in touch with your emotional side. “Emotions are to the creative person what chisels are to sculptors,” he explains. “Learning to deeply feel emotions creates unfamiliar neural maps that open us to new experience.” Okay, so you carved out time in your schedule to get all emotional and inspired. Now what? “First, relax,” Bain says. “Turn your attention away from everything you’ve been thinking about and doing up to this point. Choose something completely arbitrary, plucking something from your immediate surroundings. This is a fun way to get get your juices flowing. Go to the eighth word on a random page of a magazine. What do you see? Dumpster? Filibuster? Drainpipe?” Focusing on something seemingly mundane just might make you think of it in an entirely new way.
Or, you can reach for Bain’s book. He has loads of creative exercises, which represent an outpouring of everything he’s learned about creativity through his 30 years of studying it. “I can’t claim every one of these tools as my own. I’ve learned from many fabulous teachers along the way, and have adapted and discovered a few tricks of my own,” he tells us. “Funny thing about the creative process: It’s a relationship. You begin by giving it everything, and before you know it, it is giving back to you too.”
Letting Go of Perfectionism
A tip for you Type-A personalities out there: There is no perfection in creativity. Bain says you have to let that go, and until you do, it can be a major roadblock. He knows this firsthand, because he’s dealt with it himself. “It’s something I picked up in childhood, when I longed for outside validation and approval, and learned to compare myself with others,” he says. Another roadblock he’s faced first-hand: procrastination. “I’m an artist of checking email, Facebook, the fridge. The voice of roadblocks can sound like this: I don’t have what it takes to get this done. Or Who am I to do this? Or I don’t have the right connections. Sound familiar? Don’t let thoughts like that get in your way.
How Creativity Changes Every Aspect of Your Life
The Book of Doing and Being not only shows how maximizing your creativity can transform your work, but also your relationships. Bain says the reason for this is because when you exercise being creative, you are actually rewiring your brain’s neural maps. “Creativity feeds new energy. We respond to everything with new and greater capacity,” he says. “That’s good news for life, love, and work.”
What are your tips for maximizing your creativity? Share them in the comments.
(Photo via Barnet Bain)