This is a guest post from comedian and creative coach, Bob Stromberg. In episode 15 of the BoldIdea podcast, Bob talked about the creative process.
I believe we were made in the image of our creator. So, not surprisingly, I believe we were made to create. Something of the creative spirit is woven into our very genes. It has blessed and sustained humankind with every solved problem, every helpful invention, every tasty recipe, musical instrument, stirring symphony and tantalizing tale. Without the gift of creativity the human race could not have survived.
Yet often, creativity feels like a gift only other, very special, people possess. We gaze upon the shiny wrappings of our own creativity and something deep within calls us to open the gift but… how to even begin? So we live our Iife feeling not quite complete, pretending that all is well, all the while knowing something is missing.
I believe the problem lies in our misunderstanding the gift. The gift woven into our genes is not creativity itself. The gift is rather the capacity and the desire to experience creativity. The capacity is large and the desire is insatiable.
We begin unwrapping the gift almost immediately as we move from infancy into early childhood. We do so through the medium of play.
As babies, we delight to learn that our facial expressions cause our parents to laugh. We roll from our stomach to our back and can hardly wait to try it again. We rock on our knees and are thrilled with our new mobility. We learn to crawl and then walk. We jump and skip. We scribble and sing and clap. We pile our blocks. We knock them over. We pile them higher to be toppled again.
As small children, creativity is all we do.
So where does it go? Sadly, for most it disappears in elementary school. We learn there that we must give the one correct answer to the test question, circle the one correct multiple choice, the one correct word, the one correct number. We learn our lesson quickly and we learn it well. In the process we forget how to experience the joyful play of creativity. Creativity, you see, is not about finding the one correct answer to any problem. Creativity is about playfully trying many possible correct answers, learning through our mistakes and then trying again. Creativity does not fear failure and will not heed a red check mark.
The good news is… your gift is still inside you.
The bad news is… it’s going to take some work to open.
To experience creativity again we must practice the process. That’s right. Creativity is a process, a skill, a craft that can be practiced. Research in neuroscience reveals that with only five to fourteen minutes of practice a day, over a period of two to three months, strong neural pathways grow and result in habitual expressions of creativity.
You have a wonderful gift in a beautiful shiny package just waiting to be opened. So what do you say? Is it worth four to fifteen minutes a day? If so… Come on! Let’s play! Because your gift is still inside you.