5 Rules that Build Creativity


Yeah, yeah, I know. You’re one of those people who think creativity exists “outside” the rules. “So”, you ask,” how can there be ‘rules’ that build creativity?”

Since I could probably write a couple weeks worth of responses to that one silly question I’ll settle instead for just giving you the rules and let you sort it out for yourself.

Rule 1: Stop Forgetting
You were “created in the image” of God. You remember God? The CREATOR? That means you ARE creative BY NATURE. It’s funny how creative a room full of four and five year olds can be. Creativity doesn’t start being forgotten until later in grade school when the strong desire to “fit in” takes over.

So Rule 1 is: stop forgetting that you ARE creative and always have been.

Rule 2: Stop Criticizing
Once the desire to fit in kicks in the inner critic shows up. The inner critc shuts down ideas before they get anywhere. The inner critic tells you you’re not (full in the blank) enough.  Shoot that dude. The inner critic kills ideas at the idea stage. Learn to muzzle him.

So Rule 2 is: stop the inner critic. Sometimes the best ideas grow out of a chain of bad ones that you just run with.

Rule 3: Stop Comparing
I find it interesting that we label a whole group of people as “creatives”. What does that mean? Bill Gates is creative but would he be labeled A creative? Does the title refer solely to people who make a living at pursuing artistic endeavors?

I’ve known some people who have creative positions who aren’t.

The trouble with the label is that it segments people. Now the whole “fit in” thing is applied to a non-creative category of people who aren’t “creatives”

So Rule 3 is: Stop comparing and labeling yourself.

Rule 4: Stop Hesitating
Your brain is insanely fast. Generate enough ideas and you’re bound to find a good one. Too often the inner critic stops the flow. Fast and furious free association is a great way to generate ideas. Don’t try to get the final thing all at once, lets the bits flow, sort through them and pick the ripest ones.

So Rule 4 is: Let the ideas roll, even the bad ones.

Rule 5: START
Being creative doesn’t mean learning to paint, or write music, or sculpt. It really just means doing something in a new enough way that it catches someones attention. THAT CAN BE ANYTHING! It can be the way you hang tools in the garage. It can be the way you dress. It can be the way you schedule. Find something you have a passion for and start there.

So Rule 5 is: Pick someplace you’re comfortable, think creative expression, and start there.

As someone who is often labeled as creative but who doesn’t make a living as a creative I really enjoy helping people who are either labeled as non-creatives or who make a living as something others than a creative re-discover that they are in fact creative.  🙂

1. Picture your inner critic as a person. They do NOT look like you because you ARE creative. So what do they look like? In detail.
2. Your inner critic needs to be subdued. Based on the detailed description you created of this villain what creative method will you use to dispose of them?
3. What are some of your favorite activities? Incorporate one of them into your method for stifling the critic.

16 responses to “5 Rules that Build Creativity

  1. …another home run of a blog post!

    …thank you…….!!!

  2. Wow, I needed to read this. Just lost my brother who was a very creative artist. Have a sister who not only paints but teaches. I have put off “dusting” off my painting skills. Thank you, I am re-inspired!

  3. Dear Inner Critic: I am tired of your beady red eyes peaking at me around corners. You send criticism in sly ways, and I sometimes fail to see it for what it is. You are deceitful. Please go away. Thank you. Just so you know, Mr. IC, I plan to be creative in every area of life, and I plan on pushing others to be creative too. So you might as well give up trying to stop me. Oh, you may stop one or two ideas, but by shear volume, I will subdue your criticism. I love to write in my idea book, and I will write any idea that comes to mind. You can’t stop me from doing this. In fact, your scheming ways are giving me even more ideas. Again, thank you. I also love to read, and I refuse to let you get in the way of this too. I’m going to schedule time to read every day. My creativity is something that is growing, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it because I am more determined and smarter than you. So, just accept defeat. I am going to be more and more creative every day… I’m going to pursue it deliberately. It’s a choice I’m making. Not only that, but I’m going to inspire others to defeat your brothers, sisters and cousins. Sincerely, Creativity.

  4. I find having a “Book of Ideas” helps me be creative. It also allows me to analyze an idea later on and make room for new ones.

    • Completely agree Michael. Mine is a hard bound 8X6 with a plain green cover…goes with me just about everywhere. Poetry, drawings, video games ideas, software ideas…all over in there. Great tip!

  5. you just got my creative juices flowing! Thank you!!

  6. I think the key to being creative is understanding that it is less about inspiration and more about perspiration. The more work you put into being creative the more natural it feels.

    I like to write music. However, I find that if I don’t do it consistently it is much more difficult. If I try to do some every day it flows easily. Not every song is a keeper but I am at least able to get them out.

    I experience the same thing with writing my blog. If I do it regularly I can usually find something to write about. If I take time off it is much harder to get back into it. Inertia is your best friend and your worst enemy.

    Good post.

  7. “Not good enough” is my inner critic’s mantra. I think I will stifle her by creating anyway. (Plus I have a deadline to meet, so it will be ‘good enough!’)

    • Yeah, I get that one a lot too and deadlines CERTAINLY help. The funny thing to me is that, for example, some of my most read blog posts are ones that I really just threw together in order to be sure I did something that day. Stuff I thought was nowhere NEAR what I would have thought of as acceptable had I had or taken more time. Sometimes you just gotta run with it

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