What is Creativity, How Do I Get Better At It?

What is Creativity, How Do I Get Better At It?

Creativity, according to Webster’s, is the ability to transcend traditional ideas and to create meaningful new ideas. I doodled this little graphic about 2 years ago to help me remember exactly what the word means.

Before I looked the word up, I always believed that being creative meant that I had to be artsy… a good painter, drawer, or a good decorator. I am not sure where or when I developed that thinking. Maybe it was when I was in elementary school and the teacher assigned an art project and instructed me to “be creative.” It could’ve been when I was in college and had the task of designing a team t-shirt. Everyone insisted that the design must be creative. It’s possible that my first year teaching helped warp my view of creativity as well. Everyone used to look at my bulletin boards and say, “Ooo, that’s creative.”

Every association I had with the word was connected to art, and I never thought any differently until I started reading what some “creatives” had to say on the subject. Turns out, Webster was right! It really isn’t anything to do with art, the creating of it, or the ability to color just right in the lines. In fact, it has everything to do with coloring and squiggling all outside the proverbial lines of life and coming up with a new idea, thought, view, or creation.

The change in my thinking didn’t come easy. I have done a lot of reading, more reading, then I read some more. There are lots of books on the subject and still quite a few of them are on my must read list. One book in particular, “Big Magic,” by Elizabeth Gilbert was revolutionary for me. Her words seemed to open my eyes, ears, and heart to help me see, hear, and feel the true meaning of being creative.

My biggest take away… Creativity takes courage. Courage to try new things, courage to attempt something you’ve never done. Courage to ignore the fears in your head and go after something in a nontraditional way in hopes of finding a new path.

I have used this book and all of the other readings to really guide the work that I do as a director of professional development. I am constantly looking for new and engaging ways for teachers, students, and parents to bring more creativity into their classrooms and homes. In my last blog post, I shared a list of ways that you are your kids could be creative this summer. I received numerous emails and tweets from many of you who are working through the list. Please keep those coming. This week, I would like to provide you with some ways to build your own creativity.

  1. For 5 minutes, look at this ruler and make a list of all the things you can do with it other than measure and draw a straight line.
  1. Study this picture of a unique bird. Make a list of as many questions as you can think of about what you see. There is no wrong question. The more you think of the better!
  1. Look at these objects. Take a few minutes to think of ways that these three could be connected.
  1. This guy is laughing… What about? Talk with a friend and see if you can come up with 20 ideas of what has got his giggle box flipped.


  1. What is this? I have no idea… Help me come up with a few things it might be.

Hopefully after you try a few of these ideas, your minds will be on a new path of learning and those new meaningful ideas that are the crux of creativity will begin to make their way into every part of your life. If you’d like to read a little more than just my blog on the subject, try these books. But, be warned, your mind will be forever changed!