What Makes People Creative?

Creative brain

What Makes People Creative?

Creativity is the ability to solve problems, often in an unconventional, and original way. 

It doesn’t matter what kind of problem we’re talking about. There’s no ranking or scale that should deter people from being creative – that’s the beauty of it. More often than not it can be up to the beholder.

It could be something as simple as expressing an emotion in a unique way, or something as complex as inventing the cure for a disease. Any pursuit that invites new ideas into the world to solve a problem is ‘creating’ and is therefore creative. 

With all that being said, there are certainly those who are able to perform as a ‘creative’ and get paid for it, more so than others.  They make it part of their career to develop and execute ideas. Sometimes their remuneration is a direct result of their performance. Other times they might just get lucky.

Creativity is often seen as some sort of paradoxical ability, something that’s completely abnormal and beyond our conventional norms. “Wow, that’s really creative!” “Someone must have been high or partially intoxicated when they made that” – I’m sure we’ve all heard or said something like this at least once in our life. You’re either creative, or you’re not, they say. Why are traditional creatives viewed as either crazy smart geniuses or under the influence? 

Creative people are just natural problem solvers. That’s not to say that you must enjoy solving every problem that creeps into your life. Not at all. It’s often about creating fewer problems in our daily lives so that we can focus on the bigger problems at hand. Whether that’s our work or hobbies. 

The truth is, we’re all creative. It’s not something you need to have a degree in. But not everybody has the willingness to engage in problem-solving. Some don’t get the scope. Others just simply lack the willpower. They don’t acknowledge or even try to explore the idea that they might be creative. They’ll say “Oh I couldn’t do that, I’m not creative…”

Well, you might be thinking “Oh there must be a scientific explanation of creativity. What brain cells light up to generate brilliant ideas?” Unfortunately, there’s still no answer for that.  Even the world’s greatest minds who have made it part of their life’s work to distill the neuroscience behind creativity haven’t uncovered all there is to know, yet. 

The Science Behind What Makes People Creative

One of those experts is Nancy C. Andreasen , recipient of the National Medal of Science, America’s highest award for scientific achievement and renowned neuroscientist. As they describe it “Capturing human mental processes can be like capturing quicksilver. The brain has as many neurons as there are stars in the Milky Way.” She goes on to ask: “what are we even looking for when we search for evidence of “creativity” in the brain?”

What we do know is that at the core of every creative person is a deep state of curiosity. Nancy says “Many creative people are polymaths, people with broad interests in many fields. They tend to be very persistent, even when confronted with scepticism or rejection. They have to confront doubt and rejection. And yet they have to persist in spite of that because they believe strongly in the value of what they do.”

What Nancy means is that such individuals have a tendency of being curious about anything that creates doubt within their minds. They have a certain desire or ego for knowing and learning everything in their field of interest. So, they naturally feel challenged when something unknown or unfamiliar comes up. Solving a problem and satisfying their curiosity is kind of an obsession for creative people. For them, it’s often not about achieving money or rewards, rather about achieving a sense of fulfilment from solving problems.

Now you know what makes people creative you probably bant to become more creative yourself, right? Here’s a few tips to help you do just that.

Tips To Become A More Creative Person

Creativity is our inherited trait as humans. If that wasn’t the case, then the human race wouldn’t have survived for 300,000 years. From the first caveman that invented fire, to the person reading this post right now, we’re all creative. 

But what most of us lacks is sheer willpower and belief. So, the first thing you need to do is throw out the notion of “Oh I couldn’t do that, I’m not creative”. Once you have that confidence, you can start practising the following tips to grow and bring out your inner creativity. 

  • Practice coming up with ideas – present yourself with a challenge every morning and come up with at least 10 new ideas. Simply trying to come up with new creative ideas helps to build creative muscle.
  • Push through the dip – You can plan for creativity because with every brainstorm there is a dip. To offset the dip, it can help by throwing in a left-field idea. And after the dip is when you can really stretch out your creative ideas to find the gold.

    To really be creative and innovate, you have to throw away what you know and ‘get stupid’ to come up with something truly original, then work backwards from there. This is why outsiders like consultants can come up with good ideas for businesses.
  • Restrictions nurture creativity (e.g time or budget) – Without restrictions/limitations, we can’t be as creative because we don’t know what we have to include or leave out. Restrictions often push our backs against the wall, and that’s when the real creativity starts to come out.

    When famous graphics designer Anthony Burrill started his career, he couldn’t afford a computer. He had to replicate digital posters with hand-drawn illustrations. This ultimately led to his very successful career as a creative designer. 
    So, when you’re practising creativity, limit your resources. Don’t just do a simple google search on “10 innovative app ideas”. Work your brain and imagination. What we’re saying is to be resourceful, but don’t depend too much on the available resources, otherwise, your creative side won’t be forced out.
  • Don’t criticise your ideas – No idea is a bad idea, you’ve probably heard this a lot. This is true. Don’t judge your idea, build on them. If you think your idea is not acceptable, don’t throw it away, rather focus on improving it. Get all of your creative ideas out on the table before you decide to be critical about them. A good strategy of how to do it is the Walt Disney Dreamer exercise. Start with your dreams, become more realistic, then criticise and poke holes at the end.

So, there you have it. Creative people have an uncanny knack of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. They’re characterised by their ability to see the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, and generate solutions. And now you can start becoming more creative as well. It’s a great move for your career, business and personal life, too.

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