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The One Thing You Need To Do to Be Creative

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

2nd_office_11
In the scrapbooking community, people are always making blanket statements to readers that we are all creative. I don’t know how many times I’ve read on a blog, “YOU’RE CREATIVE!”

Do you ever feel like it’s just a bunch of RA-RA? Self-improvement feel-good hype?

I want to give an explanation for WHY every single person actually does have everything they need to be creative — really truly. No hype.

What makes something creative?

I’ve come to the conclusion that every new and creative innovation, large or small, comes from one act: the act of combining things that have never been combined, or that are not commonly combined.

In other words, creativity is the pairing of two or more things together.

What kind of things? Lots of kinds . . . .

  • ideas, beliefs, thoughts
  • techniques in any field of interest
  • styles
  • items
  • purposes
  • sollutions

That is the principle of creativity — pairing things that already existed independently of each other. Most commonly, it involves taking something that is already common to a group of people, and combining it with something from our own individual experience.

Let’s move away from the abstract talk now and get concrete with some examples. Here are some examples of my own little acts of creativity, broken down into the two or more combined things . . .

Coffee Sleeves Book

2nd_office_1
I took two common things/ideas . . .

  • a mini-book bound with book rings
  • using everyday disposable items

and combined them with my own common experience . . .

  • coffee sleeves

It took no great act of thought. I was writing at the coffee shop almost every day and feeling wasteful with all the disposable cups I use. At the same time, I wanted to make a book that tells the story of my writing excursions. The book seems like a totally logical and obvious conclusion once you think about it.

Tags, Wires, and Beads

hyman_tribe_closeup
One time I saw Ali Edwards take a circular stamp filled with journaling lines, and stamp it four times in a row, each image touching slightly. Then she journaled, using those four stamps as one big journaling space, instead of four separate ones.

I’m pretty sure I took the idea of combing multiple spaces and using them as one when I decided I needed a way to use up my tags . . .
hyman_tribe_closeup
I combined at least five things to come up with this . . .

  • the idea of turning multiple spaces into one space
  • my need to use up some tags
  • the need to link the tags
  • my love for wires
  • swirls and wavy lines

Later on, I took my wavy wired tags and combined them with . . .
socks

  • my love of beads
  • Glimmer Mist and Distress Ink
  • the act of layering handmade embellishments
  • my heavier wire and the problem-solving realization that the wire doesn’t have to go through every tag

socks_closeup_tags

Why Every Person Has Creative Abilities

Creativity is not the act of making something totally new. Because it’s only a matter of combining something that already exists — even something common — with something else, anyone can be creative. You can take your own life experiences, your own beliefs, thoughts, personal tastes and interests, and bring them together.

Sometimes I do this on purpose. I look for an item in my stash that is totally unrelated to the item I’m already working with, and then I figure out how to combine them. It’s a great exercise in creativity and a good way to get excited about something old and stale that’s been sitting in your scrap area for too long.

But more often, I’m just putting a little bit of myself into something a lot of people are already doing. Making it my own. We can all do that! All it takes is paying more attention to yourself and a little less attention to everyone else. That may sound selfish, but it is such an unselfish thing to share!

It requires a tiny amount of risk if you’re used to relying on other people’s designs for your scrapbooking or crafting.

It means taking a little time to think.

And it very often happens when we have a problem we need to solve. But that is the topic for a future article to come.

Weekly Roundup

  • Extra Member’s Content - As part of our birthday celebration, I gave our members an audio discussion I had with Lain Ehmann on using design and photography to tell our stories, and on choosing decorative items with intention. If you’re a member and haven’t heard it, be sure to refresh your iTunes account or check the Member’s Area! If you’re not, you can learn about membership here.
  • The Paperclipping Roundtable - I Fought Sorting By Color
  • The Paperclipping Digi Show - Purple Is A Death Sentence

Heads Up!

  • Paperclipping Live! – This live scrapbooking show is every Tuesday at 6:30pm PST. Izzy will be making his very first scrapbooking project! You’ll want to see this!