Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Do More to Become More Creative?

One of the books that is in my active reading pile (review forthcoming ;) ) is Twyla Tharp's "The Creative Habit". The initial premise of the book is a simple one; if you desire to become more creative, you have to work at it. In some ways, this is counter-intuitive. We often think of the idea that creativity is something we are born with, not something we develop. In truth, though, it no different than any other skill.

The challenge, of course, is determining why we want to be more creative in the first place (and as testers, believe me, we know the value of creativity). So how can someone get past their resistance and make a play at getting more creative?

There are several methods Tharpe covers in the book, and a gain, I'll leave that for a more formal review of the book, but one of the things I thought was interesting was the idea that, to become creative, one must make the commitment to sit down and create (or stand, or hang, or whatever) and once that person does that, the odds of them succeeding at becoming more creative increases?

Again, I found this idea counter-intuitive. I'll agree that it will help with the mechanics, but how really will it help me become more creative? either you have it or you don't, right? Wrong! Each of us has the power to make something, and yes, at first, that power will invariably come off clumsily or not fully formed, and more to the point, it will not be perfect. That's really what's been tying most of us up for so long. It's not that we don't believe we can make something, it's that we don't trust or value what we ultimately make! 

Have you found yourself looking at a picture or an idea, or a problem, then taking a swing at it, and then giving up because your answer is not "good enough"? I know I have, and I'm now realizing what a mistake that actually is. I often get hung up on the perfect idea in my mind, and getting upset that I cannot achieve the perfection I have created in my head. the problem is that a perfectly serviceable idea is already in play. It may not be beautiful, or stylish, or meet every requirement or problem, but it was created by me for the purpose. With continued practice and effort, I just may ultimately be able to create a more perfect model or idea (note, I didn't say "perfect" I said "more perfect"; none of us will ever get to the "perfect" but more perfect comes with practice and effort).

So for those of you waiting for that "inspiration" to strike, I'd suggest rolling up your sleeves and getting down into the muck of whatever it is you're doing. Your odds of catching that slippery "muse" will be much better than if you sit there hoping to sweet talk it into your presence.

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