Wednesday, July 12, 2006

How to get Creative

Thank you to everyone for your warm comments about my fish mitten. I'm still riding that nice buzz that comes from making something original.

I've been thinking about the creation process the last few days and I thought I'd share some of my thoughts with you.

Being creative involves putting things together in novel ways. It helps to be curious and to expose yourself to new ideas. For me, that means checking out a lot of blogs and knitting beyond my comfort zone. I find that I ask "What if?" a lot. For the fish mittens, I was thinking about how I liked the Noro patterns like Lady Eleanor and Butterfly and the way the designers worked with the self striping yarn. I also happen to really like Trekking yarn and then POW! the two of them came together for me. But at first I was thinking "What if I made a baby sweater from Trekking in entrelac?"

The creative process can't be forced. Sitting in front of a blank piece of paper as you get more and more frustrated is a recipe for disaster. If you find yourself in this situation, move on. Go have some fun instead, because ultimately, being creative is playful. So the baby sweater didn't feel fun to me. I don't know any babies right now, and I wanted to make something for myself. So I shelved that idea.

Creative ideas take a risk by going beyond what's conventional. But going too far past the edge of conventional risks being misunderstood. That's why you see a lot of art described as "edgy". After I first had the fish mitten idea, I started thinking of sequins, and long flowing fish tails (like my sweet Beta fishy) and using more than one color of Trekking. I had to rein my self in to keep it simple, but I think the concept is more successful that way, and it sure kept things easier for my first one. Otherwise, I might have gotten discouraged trying to put in all my embellishments.

I used to say that anyone could come up with all these crazy ideas that I have, but I don't any more. I've come to realize that I'm a creative person and that it's a talent. But I also believe that no matter what your natural born ability is, with persistence and practice you can improve from your current level and that is the only comparison that matters. So instead of negative thinking like, "I'm not as creative as her", you can think positively that "I've achieved a higher level of creativity than I have before."


  1. Look what happens when I miss reading my blogs for a day or so ... we're overrun with fish!

    That's a wonderful mitten, and I hope you'll write the pattern down someday. Or at least knit the guy a mate!

  2. Mary Jane12:08 pm

    I have been giving your observations on creativity a lot of thought. Most of us are creative in various aspects of our life and don't even recognize it. Often creativity takes the form of just looking at a problem from a slightly different angle. Creativity is not limited to the arts and crafts. It can be in the interpretation of statutes and legislation. It can be in the wording of a business letter. Creativity in one area of your life can lead to more creativity and satisfaction in other aspects of your life. I know when I am being creative in my hobbies, I also find myself becoming more creative at work.

    Failure does not mean that you are not creative. If you can learn from your failures you are showing that you are creative. A recent book I was listening to talked about a scientist named Avery and how after the 1918/1919 influenza pandemic he went on to spend his life studying pneumococcus bacteria. Many of his experiments failed but he studied his failures and went on to design new experiments to test the observations from his failed results. He eventually proved through his failures that DNA was the building block of all life. I would call him creative.

    Now that I have rambled on and on I just want to say that I look forward to more of your creative endevours.

  3. Mary Jane, you are absolutely right! I believe it is human nature to be creative, but sometimes we are blocked by the ideas in our heads, or the problems in our lives. I think we need to have a certain amount of confidence and sense of security in order to take the risks that creativity calls us to.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your feelings on creativity - you were so candid it made me feel like I could let go a little and allow myself to maybe think outside the box a bit. It also helped that you shared your line of thinking. Really, thanks a lot.