Exercising The Creative Muscle

“Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.” — William Somerset Maugham

The truth of the matter is, I’m a little too heavy. And I’m a lot creative. I’m overweight because I don’t exercise enough, and I’m creative, because I do.

Did you ever take an especially long walk, or have a really tough workout, wake up sore the next day and say, “Man, I found muscles I never knew I had?” Creativity, too, is a muscle that must be used and exercised in order to get stronger. To become more creative, you have to be creative more often. Try something. Fall short. Then try again, and gain a little ground. Exercise your creativity. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I’ve done a lot of work in audio and video production that never made it off the drawing board, either because the idea didn’t quite work, or the client didn’t like the ad, or whatever. But these aren’t failures in my view. They’re only successes that haven’t yet found a home. In fact, in my computer, the folder where I save all the rejected commercials, unsold song parodies, and partially-completed projects is called the “Homeless Shelter.” And even though those particular projects might not have ripened fully, I sometimes poke around the “Homeless Shelter” for a little spark of inspiration when I’m stuck for an idea on a current assignment.

Creativity, for many, is an elusive trait that’s often dismissed from their own lives with a wave of the hand, a shake of the head, and an, “Oh, not me. I’m not creative.” For them, creativity is an enviable quality “other people” possess.

But I think everyone is creative in some way – in their own way. Creativity is part of what makes us unique – part of what makes us us. When you unlock that creativity inside you, you find a part of yourself that never existed before, and you make it real. Tangible. Visible. But there are a couple things you have to do to let it out of its cage.

First, you have to admit to yourself that, yeah, maybe you are creative. And bear in mind, “creative” is a VERY flexible term. You don’t have to take up the guitar, or buy paints and an easel, or sign on for community theater. You can be creative with the arts, you can be creative in sports, you can be creative with finance and investing. You can be creative in architecture, landscaping, technology, law, engineering… You only have to change your attitude about whatever it is you do, and find the muscle you never knew you had.

Then, exercise.

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4 responses to “Exercising The Creative Muscle

  1. Pingback: sephone blog » Do you remember the movie, “Revenge of the Nerds?”

  2. NICE! Hope you dont mind I linked it to the sephone blog.

  3. Excellent post!

    I also have a few PDFs of notes (scanned from file folders) from “failed” projects. There’s no better inspiration when you’re stuck for ides on a future project – even if it’s entirely unrelated – than to see what you’ve done in the past. Most “failed” ideas weren’t failures at all, there was simply a *better* option.

    I’ve taken up yoga recently and my teacher said something last week that really stuck with me. Our bodies are always changing – cells dying, new cells generating, etc. so what we know as our body today is really a different body than we had yesterday. So, if yesterday you thought you were not strong enough, or flexible enough, then you should keep trying, because maybe you can influence tomorrow’s body to be a flexible one. Same with creativity, or learning a new language – with enough practice, you can strengthen that muscle.

  4. Pingback: Bookmarks about Muscles

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