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The Top 10 Common Factors That Inhibit Creativity

It happens to all of us. We stumble upon a brilliant idea, feel super invigorated and excited, and poof! The light bulb goes out and we lose the will to bring our idea to life. So, what happened? We talked to #girlboss Tina Seelig, an expert on creativity, Stanford professor of engineering, the inventor of the innovation engine, and a speaker at this year’s Re:Make (get your tickets to Re:Make 2015 here!) in San Francisco (whew!) to find out the biggest creativity killers.


1. Getting overwhelmed: Creative people have big ideas, but sometimes, they get so overwhelmed by the scope of their imagination, they quit before they can even figure out where to start. Professor Seelig tells us, “That’s actually the biggest problem — people getting in their own way. They get essentially paralyzed.” The trick is, you’ve got to start small.

2. Laziness: In order to get an idea off the ground, you have to be willing to experiment and put your idea through trials. “We look at things that people show the world and they look fully formed. And yet, we don’t often see the process that was required to get them there,” Tina says. “The fact is it’s a messy process, and if you only look at the finished product, you don’t see everything that went into it.”

3. Fear of failure: Too often, people give up at the first sign of failure. According to Tina, “They get so frustrated that they give up instead of realizing that the process is really filled with trial and error. That’s a really important part of the creative process.” Try recalibrating your view toward failure as gathering additional data.

4. Environments that stifle creativity: An uncomfortable, distracting space is going to result in distracted and uninspired work. It’s important to create one that encourages your creativity rather than stifles it. “When people come to Stanford and come to the D School, they don’t have to take a single class. They walk in and go, ‘Wow, I want to go to school here.’ It’s fascinating how the physical space so dramatically changes the way we feel,” Tina says.

5. Poor culture: Culture is the people and prevailing attitudes that surround you. For some cultures, “incentives are put into place for crushing ideas as opposed to stimulating them,” Tina warns. “For example, if people get criticized if they try something big and new and it fails, then everyone around is resistant to trying big new things. They’re going to do incremental little things because they’re afraid that if they do something big and it doesn’t work, they’re going to get punished.”

6. Negativity: A lot of allowing your creativity to flourish is “an inside job,” as Tina says, and having a negative attitude is a common factor that kills creativity. “You can go into any environment and look at the problems or you can go into any environment and see the opportunities,” Tina tells us. “Having that mindset that the world is full of opportunities, even as an individual, you start seeing places where you can do something remarkable. ”

7. Impatience: “Someone once asked Picasso, ‘How long did it take for you to do that painting?’ It was one of his very quick line paintings. It was a very expensive painting,” Tina tells us, “And Picasso said, ‘A lifetime.'” Creative work is a labor of love, and labors of love take time. “The fact is, it is a lifetime that goes into every single thing you do,” she adds.”It’s all of your experiences.”

8. Not prioritizing creativity: With the limited hours we each have in a day, we prioritize daily the things that are important to us. Sometimes, amidst work, family and school, we let creativity fall to the wayside, but as creatives, that’s a big mistake. Tina’s written 17 books in her career. “People often ask me, ‘Wow, how do you write books?’ There’s only one way to write a book. You write a book,” she says. “It means you make it a priority. So if you want to be creative, you need to make that a priority in your life.”

9. Keeping your work to yourself: Nobody is perfect — but as creatives, we are often brutal perfectionists. When it comes to our work, we want it to be flawless before we show it to anyone. “What ends up happening is that you end up being more committed to it, there’s the time and emotional commitment, and it’s much more difficult to get the feedback and make changes,” Professor Seelig tells us.

10. Not “killing your darlings”: Sometimes, we get too enamored with our own work, and we don’t want to toss any of it out… even if it’s just not working. “One of the big problems people have is that people have AN idea and they don’t realize that’s a problem if you have one idea,” she says. “People who are creative have an endless stream of ideas, and you need to trust that if you throw out one, you’re going to have 10 that will follow.”

What are some things that get in the way when you’re trying to create? How do you overcome them? Tell us in the comments below!

Alright, folks. We've officially made it to fall. And if you haven't already started switching out your decor (as long as it's ready by Friendsgiving, right?) you still have time to do so. Draw inspiration from this round-up of new home products that includes harvest-inspired candles, cozy linens and textiles, and a v. practical piece of furniture. One scroll through these, and you'll have all the motivation you need to transition the seasons. Scroll on to start shopping.

Prism x LOREM Collection ($96+): Calling all Cali babes. The popular Long Beach boutique, Prism, announced a boho-fabulous collab with home decor line, LOREM, that we can't get enough of. Shop everything from plant hangers (eight options, to be exact) to artwork, all inspired by the very colorful vibes of the brands. If you were looking for a cheery way to tide you through winter, this. is. it!

Floyd Mattress (Price TBD): Fans of the cult-favorite Detroit-based brand will love their latest launch debuting on October 29. The highly-coveted Floyd Mattress will have the same made-to-last design and superior comfort as their other furnishings, tailored perfectly to fit the line's in-demand bed frame. Additional details for the mattress include a breathable foam material, highly-mobile packaging, and a low-profile design to secure your best night's sleep yet. Check back on the last week of the month to get one for yourself.

Dims 'Composed Vanity' ($595): Small space? No problem! Direct-to-consumer brand, Dims, is giving you a quick and stylish solution to your storage needs with their newest item that doubles as both a desk and vanity. The functional piece is made with non-toxic, chemical-free materials and can be assembled in seven minutes or less. Throw in four sleek shades to choose from, and this may just be your best purchase of 2019 yet!

Saatchi Art x The Citizenry Holiday Collection ($225+): Get ready to deck your walls this holiday season. Saatchi Art partnered with The Citizenry in a one-of-a-kind collection that features a curation of art across styles. Explore everything from modern to abstract creations in a selection so stunning, it's bound to spark a conversation at your next gathering.

NEST Spiced Orange & Clove Collection ($16+): If you haven't experienced the addicting aromas of the beloved NEST fragrance brand, this is the perfect time to get on board! The label recently released their latest scent — spiced orange & clove — just in time for all your gatherings. Inhale festive notes of orange pomander, spiced brandy, cinnamon, and gingered honey across their suite of candles and diffusers to bring all the good vibes to your home.

Bloomingdales x RiLEY Home ($19+): RiLEY Home gets millennials. So they teamed up with Bloomingdales to make shopping their selection more attainable than ever. Now, you can get in on long-lasting, luxurious staples like flannel sheets, bedding, printed throws, premium pet beds, and more, by shopping online and in-stores at the department store. (Trust us: These dream goods are ones you're going to be *glad* you stocked-up on.)

Italic Serene Towels ($12+): The luxury brand that prides itself on using the *same* factories namesake brands (like Calvin Klein and Lacoste) use, but without the price tag behind them, brings you a new product for fall. Treat yourself to Italic's ultra-soft towel set spun from fluffy, 100% Australian cotton, in a convenient set of six. Consider it the perfect indulgence after a long soak in the tub on a cozy FNI (Friday night in)!

Hyascent x Neiman Marcus ($169): 'Tis the season for a delightfully scented home. Warm your abode with scents like bourbon joy, cheeky rose and more in a unique diffuser that doubles more as decor than a fragrance-inducer. Fresh off the (online) shelves of Neiman Marcus, explore nine scents that last up to six months in a specialized hourglass holder. (Shhh! Your friends will never know the secret of why your place smells so darn good!)