The Science of Creativity


If you missed the chat, catch-up with this Storify.

Some believe that creativity is an innate quality while others counter that argument with the idea that creativity comes from one more “muscle” in the brain that can be built up over time through education, practice and the removal of creativity roadblocks. Many psychologists argue the latter, for example this article on the Science of Creativity. It lists several empirically backed tips to stimulate creativity that might be boiled down to these three general steps:

Step one: Remove roadblocks.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you stand in your own way for being creative?
  • How do others stand in the way of you doing innovative things?
  • What gets in the way of you being able to produce creative products and communicate with others?

Roadblocks are personal, so only you can identify what stops you from believing you have creative juices and using them effectively.

Step two: Get ready to be creative.

Get educated by collecting information and resources. If you’re unsure of your topic you are trying to be creative about, you might find that your idea has already been invented or created. Appreciating other’s work is a great way to know you’re coming up with an effective and creative solution and inspiring yourself to be different. Whether you’re trying to develop that a new elearning template or trying to figure out how to mash together augmented reality, mobile learning and storytelling into a solution never seen before, take some time to really get to know what is already out there.

  • You might have struggled with step one on identifying your roadblocks, so do some research to help figure out what common roadblocks exist and then see if they apply to your situation.
  • Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Get past being a beginner and get to the novice stage – read books, Google white papers, or watch YouTube videos. Use every means at your disposal to learn more about your topic.
  • View what others do – talk to others and brainstorm with them. Check out Pinterest, eLearning DemoFest, or anywhere else you can find examples of good work.
  • Create a collection of inspirational ideas, a folder (electronic or hardcopy) of content that inspires you.

Step three: Leverage your new education and lack of roadblocks to attempt creativity.

  • Just do it! Brainstorm/write/create without hesitation – you can always edit later, but let it all flow at first. You never know turns out to be useful/reusable for one purpose or another.
  • When you hit a roadblock, do something else (anything else, including sleeping on it) and come back to it later.
  • Positive reinforcement – Rome wasn’t designed in a day so even if you only accomplish something very small, give yourself some big credit and do a little more tomorrow.

In summary

If you didn’t find success then don’t be hard on yourself. Instead just smile, rinse and repeat steps 1-3 or try Googling more resources. If you found success, pat yourself on the back, smile and repeat steps 1-3 since it worked so well the first time.

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