The creative benefits of not thinking!

The creative benefits of not thinking!

There is a long held belief that highly creative people have highly chaotic minds. Whilst this is sometimes true (for me anyway), the reality is that when in a state of high creative output – there is actually not a lot of thinking going on!

537538_164115477076623_650010659_nWe all begin life with a natural aptitude for creative expression – from sticking foreign objects in our mouths as babies to using all manner of substances as finger painting mediums….. we evolve from this stage into early childhood where imagination rules and experimentation is King! Give a kid a cardboard box and you give them the world!

But once we enter formalised education, we begin a program which is less about play based learning, and more about structured and rigorous ‘left’ brain learning.

Remember the three “R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic? This is all about accuracy and the black and white ‘there is a right way to do things and a wrong way’ focus. There is after all, no such thing as creative spelling or interpretive maths! So from here on in we begin a program of valuing certain types of thinking styles. Think of Left brain thinking as the structured, ordered, realistic, sequential, literal and highly organised and analytical thinking – as opposed to the right brain thinking styles which incorporate creative, visual, interpretative, lateral and imaginative thinking styles. Whilst you might start off life being able to think in the right – a few years of early formative and formalised education will re-program you to high levels of left-brain thinking. After all, this is what we value in a western developed economy. These are skills you will need to excel in business, life and the modern world!311602_442525019114076_173553082_n

No wonder so many of us have to fight hard to reclaim our creativity! We may have survived our education and even been ‘successful’ out there in the world – but for those who want to reclaim their creativity – it is often a hard path
lined with self criticism and negative thinking. I have been fortunate to have taught many people who are determined to develop their individual creativity through art making and it is a pleasure to be part of their journey. But for nearly every one of them the constant theme is a fear of getting it wrong and a self critical narrative that plays over and over. Picasso once said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up”. I love “the creative is a child that survived” a lesser known quote attributed to the lesser known Ursula K. Le Guin which sums up perfectly what many of us creatives have experienced.

So to begin a journey towards embracing and living a creative life, one must first stop thinking in the styles in which we have been taught to master and value. Critical and analytical thinking only serve to inhibit the act of creativity. Once the left brain engages, we start the overthinking process…..this throws up all kinds of obstacles in our development. We begin to compare, judge and we will find ourselves paralysed before we even begin – connected to an outcome that hasn’t even taken place yet. As the Dalai Lama says “too much thinking…bad for you”… It is truly the journey and not the destination that matters. Ther483494_515954051774437_1395410507_ne is no “right” way to create or innovate – let go of perception and judgment – things that will serve you well in the legal profession but will be the devil on your shoulder in a creative and artistic one.

This could be construed as “unlearning” or “non-thinking”. Sounds good but how do you put it into practice? One way is to Doodle – the mindless pastime you may have found yourself doing in a meeting or conference. Another way is to give yourself an art challenge with a very limited short timespan. You have to find the spontaneous headspace to “play”…like you did when you were a kid! You never second guessed yourself then did you? Watch some kids playing or fingerpainting – do they care if their people are drawn with gigantic heads and 486739_552230931465756_768044898_nridiculously skinny legs and arms? I think not! Another tool is
the visual diary – this can be a treasure trove for ideas, experiments and visual stimulus that ignites our imagination. The visual diary is not an artwork as such – more like a private collection of what inspires us…. often what is created in the pages of the diary does indeed become a great work of art – but it is not the focus. This is where you will see yourself develop as an artist and creative thinker – because when you give yourself permission to play and explore – when you begin with the “what if???….” – you are thinking about possibilities and open ended opportunities. Don’t give up on yourself – expressing yourself creatively in whichever way you
choose is a gift you can give yourself with many positive benefits and outcomes – you will kick yourself you didn’t start earlier!

As someone else famous once said…”feel the fear…and do it anyway”!

deux visages