How long ago did you buy into the idea of divine inspiration? The lightbulb moment? Most people I talk to believe creativity and inspiration are the same thing, and that they simply...happen. If the Muse doesn’t visit you, you’ll simply never make a great work of art.
If you know me, you already know I have a different idea about creativity and inspiration. I think anyone can become more creative just as anyone can get stronger. No one builds muscle without exercise. No one gets inspired without creative exercise, either.
There are countless ways to practice the creative process and foster inspiration. I find the simplest way, though, is to begin with “Little c” creativity. Rather than Van Gogh masterpieces or Beethoven sonatas, little c ideas are the ones that simply enrich our lives. These come from your surroundings--from thinking outside the box. As Orin Davis says, Little c creativity is “the detour you figure out when a road is closed, the way you prop a door that won’t stay open, and the folded-up piece of paper you use as a coaster.”
Today, thanks to Covid-19, you can find examples of little c creativity everywhere. Countless people are finding ways to work from home, even if their jobs aren’t traditionally remote. Teachers have been forced to take their curriculums online--even ones who teach ceramics or band or chemistry. Parents have found ways to work while also taking care of their children. Collectively, we’re doing much more than finding alternative driving routes or propping open a door with folded to-do lists. Life hacks, work hacks, parenting hacks, cooking hacks, shopping hacks… These have truly exploded thanks to the coronavirus.
Sandeep Gautam wrote about little c creativity in Psychology Today, expressing his belief that “small c is the way we will inch closer to the enigma of genius.” If we don’t focus on little c and use those small successes to boost our confidence, we’ll never build up the grit--the positive attitude--required to push through to Big C.
Personally, I think for someone who doesn’t consider themselves artistic, little c creativity is a wonderful (non-threatening) starting place. After all, most people have used a shopping list for a bookmark. Maybe you’ve cut up t-shirts to make face masks. Encourage the growth of little c creativity by noticing the ways you innovate regularly: getting your team to use Slack instead of 200 group texts every day; the songs you make up for your kids; the dinner you cooked without a recipe.
It’s possible to inspire little c creativity as well as the Big C kind. Start by asking yourself open-ended questions. Be mindful of your surroundings (what do you hear? What do you smell?). Try a new coffee shop in the morning. Take a walk in nature. Banter with strangers to discover a new point of view.
If you can make strides in little c creativity, you’ll find yourself more confident around the creative process in general. You might be more willing to pick up a paintbrush or turn that lesson plan into a collage or cartoon diagram.
How has Covid made you more creative?