Although not scientifically proven, creativity can grow in a petri dish if you have the right ingredients (metaphorically of course).
I’ve always been a creative person. Growing up I loved to make “things.” Whether it was drawings, imaginary worlds, or games, I made them for the enjoyment of others and myself.
I often look back at those times and try to determine what exactly it was that drove me to be creative. Is creativity innate? Or can it be cultivated by throwing together a few ingredients into a petri dish and allowing them to fester?
I tend to lean towards the latter reasoning (even though I do believe some people a just born with incredible talent).
My Boring Childhood
Growing up, we had one TV in the entire house (and didn’t have cable until I was 10, yes I grew up without Nickelodeon). We didn’t have a computer until I was about 12 or 13. And I didn’t participate in a lot of extracurricular activities, other than soccer and Boy Scouts.
To summarize, my childhood was boring compared to kids growing up nowadays. But I’m so grateful for that boredom.
There are so many things that can distract us today. For example, I’m on paragraph six of this post and I’ve already checked my phone four times to see if I’ve received any emails. It’s Saturday morning, no one is emailing me.
With fewer distractions, my childhood was based on generating my own fun.
The Essential Ingredients to Cultivate Creativity
As much as I wish I could travel back in time to my childhood, I do like being an adult. But adulthood comes with it’s limitations – creativity being one of them.
However, not all is lost. Drawing from my experiences as a child, I’ve come up with a list of five essential ingredients needed to grow and cultivate creativity:
Gap time/Boredom – Boredom isn’t just an ingredient, it IS the petri dish holding all of the ingredients together. You can have all of the following things below, but if you don’t have boredom or gap time, nothing will come of it.
Curiosity – Without a sense of curiosity, what will drive us to create fun for ourselves? Curiosity stirs the ingredients together to see what works and what doesn’t. Learning, or rather I should say life-long learning, is a necessary component because it broadens our mind and makes room for more creativity to fill it.
Community/Friends – Humans are meant to be together. When we share our ideas with others and receive feedback, our creativity not only grows but strengthens over time.
Freedom/Alone time with your thoughts – Being comfortable with your thoughts builds inner-trust that what you create serves a purpose. If you don’t allow yourself the time and space to dream, think, and wander, your attempts to grow your creativity will be futile.
Pencil and paper – There is nothing like having a blank slate in front of you. Turning your thoughts, ambitions, or ideas into a medium others can pull from is nothing short of a miracle. Sure there is photography, video, or pantomiming, but nothing beats the simplicity of a clean sheet of paper and a number 2 pencil. Even if it only serves as a reminder of the limitless possibilities, having a notebook handy is a great source of creative inspiration.