Monday, June 13, 2011

Creativity Exercise: Can do

A beaver did this with his teeth

Task 1. 
Part 1:   Sit down and write a list of 10 things you'd like to do to further some of your creative goals.   They don't all have to be about the same goal.   They don't have to be related at all.  Or write down 10 creative things you'd like to do.  Or 10 things you want to do to be more creative.  Or 10 things that would help you be more creative.  Just get 10 things down. 

Do it.  I'm sure you have a pen or pencil and a piece of paper close by. 

Go ahead.   I'll wait.

Part 2:  Now, go through your list and schedule a time to accomplish each thing.   I'll wait.

How did this go for you?    In most creativity classes that I've taught there is a range of responses.

Group A:  Some people get stalled right up front.   They don't understand the instructions.  They can't find the right pen.  It's too hot.  They make excuses.  They get distracted.   They don't want to make the list at all. 

To them I suggest that they are more in love with the idea of creativity than they are with actually being creative and I assign a new task:    Write down ONE creative thing you'd like to do and schedule it.

If you can't do that, then you need to understand that you are your own biggest creativity obstacle.  No one can help you be creative if you are unwilling to do the work.

Group B:  Some people write down the list and have no problem scheduling.   They just needed a nudge to get them on their way.   Kudos to them!

Group C:  The majority of folks get their list on paper,  then have trouble scheduling.    I hear a lot of  'I can't. So I ask, 'Why can't you?'   And I get a lot of reasons.

I can't because it costs too much. 
I can't because I don't have time.    
I can't because I don't have the space, or the materials, or the skills, or the tools, or transportation, or a babysitter, or a computer,  or...

Task 2.   Write down all of your reasons for not being able to schedule your creativity goals. 

Look carefully at your list.   Look critically at your list.   Be honest.

Find all of your 'I can't...' and 'I don't have...' and  'It's too...'.   How many did you have?

Change all of those 'I can't...' and 'I don't have...' and  'It's too...'.  to a form of  'I choose not to...'

You'll end up with something like these:

I can't go to the museum because I don't have a babysitter.  
OR:   I choose not to go to the museum, because I choose not to get a babysitter. 

I can't finish my novel because I don't have a computer.
OR:  I choose not to finish my novel because it would be too hard without a computer.
OR:  I choose not to finish my novel because I choose not to buy a computer.

I can't paint because I don't have the money for good paint and brushes.
OR:  I choose not to paint because I choose not to spend the money on paint and brushes. 

I can't take that class because it's too far away.
OR:  I choose not to take that class because I choose not to make the arrangements to get there.

[Did you do this?    I hope so.   Leave a comment and let me know. If you did, then you are a very brave soul.  Congratulations for doing this work and for moving along in the direction of your goals.   I hope you're pleased with yourself!]

The vast majority of what we want to do, we have the ability to do.  When we're really motivated, nothing gets in our way.

When we're not motivated, it's easy to say we can't because it's easier to believe that than it is to take responsibility for doing things that are inconvenient or hard or new.  The reality is that We Can, we just choose not to because we don't want to do things that are inconvenient or hard or new.  That's normal, but normal might be getting in the way of your creativity.

Every time you hear yourself saying, 'I can't', change it to 'I choose not to'.    Soon you will see that it is your own choices that move you toward your goals, or keep you stalled.  

You may have really good reasons for choosing not to do your creative something right now.   Prioritizing is a good thing.  The point is to remember that you are not a victim of your life.   Your choices shape your life. 

Think about one of your creative heroes.  Your hero is just a regular person like you.   The only difference between you and your hero is that your hero made the choices to move in a creative direction.   Your hero did the work.   Your hero scheduled her/his creative goals.   You can, too.     Revisit your list above and schedule your goals.   Make the choice to move in a creative direction. 


  1. This was very thought-provoking. I think we'd done something like this in the Vein of Gold class you taught. I plead guilty but haven't yet found the nerve to fight my "can't" least not all parts of it.

  2. This was so helpful. Thank you so much! I devored every line and felt a sense of calmness-all thanks to you!


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