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Science shares the secrets of sparking creativity

(BUSINESS) Creativity can be an elusive creature. Is there a secret behind its nature? Science says yes.


There’s a very broad topic that always gets me revved up with excitement for all that it has to offer. That topic is creativity.

In my mind, creativity is the closest we get to magic in that we allow our minds to run rampant with ideas; a person’s imagination is virtually limitless. The bittersweet part of creativity is that it doesn’t always come running when you call its name.

Professionally and personally, creativity is something I have a lot of use for and therefore pay a lot of respect to. Unfortunately, most of the time I try to force myself to tap into creativity, it’s basically like trying to tap an empty keg.

However, according to science, there may be a way to delve into creativity a bit easier. Valerie van Mulukom of The Conversation asserts that there are different forms of creativity. There’s everyday creativity (i.e. when someone first came up with the idea to put a sugar packet underneath the leg of a wobbly table) and there’s creative imagination (i.e. being a prodigy of composing).

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Creative imagination is more groundbreaking than anything else. As a result, that is even harder to tap into. Van Mulukom suggests that things like environment and early exposure to creativity allow for a greater chance at creative imagination.

Like an experiment relies on an independent and dependent variable, creativity also relies on two things – divergent and convergent thinking. By thinking divergently, you’re able to come up with a variety of ideas (i.e. when you use mind mapping). This type of thinking is more intuitive.

With convergent thinking, you examine the ideas for their usefulness and practicality. This is supported by analytical thinking, as it helps us to select the right idea. Both divergent and convergent thinking can be supported by brainstorming sessions and picking the brains of individuals on the topic at hand.

What research suggests, though, is that experience and exposure are the necessary tools for coming up with, and selecting, the right idea.

For example, to create a groundbreaking painting, it may require you first to learn the fundamentals of the art before picking up a brush and attacking the canvas.

Aside from creative imagination, there is also fantastical and episodic imagination. Fantastical is more so creating stories (or fantasies) in your mind, similar to daydreaming. And episodic imagination entails deeply considering the process that will get you to your end goal.

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Every creative situation is exactly that – situational. You never know when creativity will strike, but by keeping an open mind and imagination (as well as always carrying something to write with) it may hit you more often.

Staff Writer, Taylor Leddin is a publicist and freelance writer for a number of national outlets. She was featured on Thrive Global as a successful woman in journalism, and is the editor-in-chief of The Tidbit. Taylor resides in Chicago and has a Bachelor in Communication Studies from Illinois State University.

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  1. Pingback: Articles of Interest | March 9, 2018 « National Creativity Network

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