The Calculated Creative

The Principles of Creativity

Modern research shows that creativity is very much a learned skill rather than something rigidly set at birth.

Creativity is often seen as some mystical force - a spark of genius that certain special people are born with.

But what if creativity was actually something we could all tap into by following a few conceptual principles?

Creativity is a Skill, Not an Inherited Trait

  • The common myth is that creative people are just born that way and creativity is somehow intrinsically part of their genetics and destiny. However, modern research shows that creativity is very much a learned skill rather than something rigidly set at birth. Like playing the piano or kicking a soccer ball well, creativity is something that can be nurtured, trained and developed over time.
  • With the right conceptual mindset shifts and regular practical exercises, almost anyone can enhance and harness their inherent creative potential. Most people only need the spark of inspiration and array of creative thinking tools. Even the stuffiest corporate types with rigid thinking or the most analytical brains have plenty of room for growth when it comes to flexing their creativity muscles.
  • The truth is we all have rich untapped wells of imagination and divergent thinking within us from a young age. But without the right environment and opportunities for expressing creativity, those muscles atrophy as we age. So if you think you're "just not creative" or "don't have an artistic bone in your body", toss those limiting beliefs aside! You likely just haven't spent enough time consciously exercising, honing and leveling up your creativity skills.

Structure Liberates, Rather than Constrains, Creativity

  • There is a common notion in creative circles and wider culture that structure and creativity are opposing forces - that firm rules or boundaries restrict rather than empower creative flow. The belief is that overplanning smothers imaginative thinking or that too many defined criteria dampens bursts of inspiration.
  • When done right, properly structured frameworks, defined limits and output criteria can massively spur, rather than completely hinder, those delightful bursts of uninhibited imagination. Constraints provide the sort of "guide-rails" to bounce embryonic ideas around and synthesize novel combinations while avoiding the paralysis of too many options. Think of creative structures as both boundaries and springboards in one - just enough solid ground before catapulting off into new terrain.
  • The key is seeking out just the right structuring of the creative process - limits that liberate rather than confine. For example, set clear time limits to force yourself into unedited output mode or constrain yourself to certain defined mediums, formats and techniques to spark unexpected connections. Let your creativity play most freely within loose structures specifically designed to bring out your best raw imaginative output.

Consume Diversely, Make Novel Combos

  • Your input shapes your creative output since combining existing ideas into new configurations is the lifeblood of human creativity. When you only stick within the knowledge silos and patterns of your own domain without cross-pollinating other disciplines, your mental concept combinations get repetitive and predictable over time.
  • But expose yourself on a regular basis to diverse creative influences, styles, techniques, and cross-disciplinary ideas and you ignite the fuel for blending more boundary-breaking creative recipes. Read deeply across literature or history, study great masters of design and photography, analyze philosophical works or cutting-edge scientific concepts. Venture way outside your professional bubble and let the collisions of disparate influences and schools of thought simmer into new creative insights.
  • For example, read books on art and architectural theory, then apply those composition ideas while designing user interfaces. Listen toevolutionary jazz rhythms and textures, then weave in that adventurousness when writing marketing copy. Study up on the fascinating field of biomimicry in nature, then transfer those bio-inspired patterns into new product and experience ideas. Divergent input begets divergent thinking.
  • The more wide-ranging your conceptual inputs, the more original your creative output. So increase your "flexi-learning" across fields. Let each new subject or style add to your subconscious Lego bricks so your minds can snap together more boundary-breaking creative visuals, stories, solutions and inventions.

The Takeaway

Ditch the myth that creativity is only for "special people".

Make creativity accessible by nurturing it via skills development.

And level up your creative output by consuming more diversely outside your niche.

With an open mindset, we can all tap into the innate human creative potential.

Make Your Work
Suck Less

Pulling back the curtain on the creative process to help make your work a little less terrible. A 3-minute read delivered each week on Monday morning.

The Calculated Creative

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