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How to be more creative – it’s surprisingly simple

5 March 2016

From The Telegraph:

Want to become more creative? It’s not hard to achieve, according to a new study by researchers at University of Maryland.

All you have to do is imagine yourself to be a stereotypically creative type of person – and your level of creativity will rise.

Conversely, if you imagine yourself to be someone with sterotypically rigid thinking, your creativity will diminish.

Study authors Denis Dumas and Kevin Dunbar, from the university’s Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, asked participants to imagine themselves as either an “eccentric poet”, or a “rigid librarian”.

. . . .

Participants were then asked to complete tasks that measured their level of divergent thinking, which was found to be higher among the “poet” group, and lower among the “librarian” group.

“The ability to engage in divergent thinking is essential to creativity,” the researchers say, “as it allows people to see problems in multiple ways, generate novel solutions, concepts, and ideas.”

Link to the rest at The Telegraph

For the record, PG worked in the university library when he was a freshman and he was pretty much the opposite of rigid. But he also thought he might be a poet when he was a freshman.

Creativity, Libraries

19 Comments to “How to be more creative – it’s surprisingly simple”

  1. But when I think I’m a millionaire my checks keep bouncing! 😉

  2. They probably didn’t require the ‘creative types’ to actually write a poem.

    I like the idea: make sure my mindset is set to ‘create freely.’

  3. Id love to see some PG poetry some day…

  4. Kanye West is a creative genius. He told us so…repeatedly.


    • Like Kanye West, William McGonagall was also highly creative. Read some of his poetry to convince yourself that creativity is an overrated virtue.

  5. Ha. I wonder if setting my goal this year to “be a writer,” and hoping taking on that identity forces me to live up to what it means–by sitting my ass down and writing–will work better than last year’s failed goal to finish my novel.

    • Ashe Elton Parker

      I suspect the issue is not with wanting to write, or having the intention to write, it’s the actual goal you’re setting. It’s too big and nebulous (I and a lot of writers I’ve met have had this issue). What helps a lot of writers I know (even those who have been writing for years), is to set a wordcount/day goal. It’s a good idea to set it for something like 200 words a day 5 days a week at the beginning, just to give you an idea. It’s a pretty flexible goal. You might try something like that. My friends say the key to this is not to beat yourself up if you can’t make the goal one day–just get back to it the following day.

      Another thing that might help is to set aside a specific time each day to write or work on other aspects of writing. I’ve met writers who do that. Each day, they’ll sit down for half an hour or so either in the morning or evening just to write. Even if they don’t actually get any words, doing this daily has trained their creative minds to produce on schedule, so they may work on background work, or worldbuilding (for SF and fantasy), or something related to their writing.

      After all that, it’s just a matter of discipline. Getting up at that early hour, or sitting down at the desk right after work/supper/when everyone else is in bed and doing something with the writing goal every day set up in the goal.

      • I feel it necessary to interject, since Sarah is a friend of mine and I can tell that your remarks are not ‘addressed to her condition’.

        The thing is, Sarah is multitalented; but she has the devil of a time choosing which horse she wants to ride. You can’t be a visual artist, a game programmer, a writer, etc., etc., all at once, unless you are content to do all of those things as hobbies. As I understand it, Sarah’s resolution is to apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the writer’s chair for a year, and not decamp into one of her other creative arts when the going gets tough.

        Most of us don’t need to worry about that; and so much the worse for us.

      • Tom pretty much nailed it, but I want to add that I’ve not had enough success doing all those incredibly smart things you suggested. I broke my writing into smaller word count goals and dedicated an hour a day to writing–I even got three rough drafts written that way–but they all collapsed the moment I became obsessed with a different artistic activity when the writing got tough.

        So yeah, telling myself to “be a writer” means taking it seriously long enough to make a proper go of it and sticking through the rough bits. It also means “stop dicking around with computer games” until the writing habit has enough momentum not to be threatened by useless hobbies.

  6. “How to be more creative – it’s surprisingly simple”

    Easy peasy. Eat more chocolate! 🙂

  7. Al the Great and Powerful

    I thought I was a poet too, but exposure to real poets made it clear I’m not any better at poetry than I was at speaking Japanese or doing engineering or complex math… so I’m an archaeologist now.

    Though archaeology IS surprisingly creative… every report is ‘tell me a story’ time… you never have all the info, you’re always interpreting and making things up.

  8. Al the Great and Powerful

    I can tell you there are good and bad poets, because I can appreciate good poetry, but I can’t write it. Similarly, you will never see me try to express myself through interpretive dance… some people lack the ability to communicate in certain ways.

    • “Similarly, you will never see me try to express myself through interpretive dance…”

      Oh, that’s easy! I take two steps, trip over my own feet and take a pratfall. People figure out I can’t dance real fast! 😉

  9. Granted divergent thinking is essential to creativity, but these studes never seem to consider that there must be an area of endeavor in which to be creative. Increasing your divergent thinking on a test is fine. But do you write, paint, dance, invent, etc.? If you don’t have anything to pursue creatively, the “increased creativity” is meaningless.

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