Earlier this week I had the happy priviledge to talk to a roomful of music therapy and music education students about creativity. I talked about why creativity matters—and not just musical creativity. For these students, creativity in its many forms can help their future students and clients, it's critical for their professional longevity and success, and it's important for their personal self-care.

I won't bore you with all the details from my talk (though if you're inclined, I've added a video of it below). But in preparing for this talk, it got me thinking about what is means to be creative and how we can enhance our own creativity.

Let's start with the former, about what it means to be creative. There are lots of good definitions out there, but the one I shared with the students is that, to me at this point in my life, creativity is the ability, the flexibility, and the courage to create something of value.

This definition is purposefully broad. Creativity can apply to a whole host of hobbies and mediums, including music, visual arts, sculpture, poetry, blogging, writing, design, fashion, make-up, architecture, acting, presenting, building, dancing, research design, cooking, gardening, baking...you get the idea. 

I think there's something to be said for finding the creative outlet (or outlets) that work for you. There's also something to be said for finding ways to enhance your creativity. Here are 6 ways to get you started on nurturing and enhancing your creative self:

  1. Be in nature. Nature may be the ultimate form of beauty, majesty, and design. Being in nature, even just taking a moment to stop and notice nature—the blooming rose, the picturesque outlook of a tree, the light rays from the sun hiding behind the clouds—all this can clear your head and get the flow going again.
  2. Allow time and space, both mental and physical. Creative energy and flow cannot happen if you are bogged down by email, phone calls, bills, homework, presentation prep, and to do lists. Give yourself permission to block out time to be creative and to relish in the energy of that flow.
  3. What time of day is best for you? Every person has times of the day when your energy level is at it's peak...and times you just crash. It's best to block your creative time for when you are naturally feeling more energetic. If I tried to "be creative" at 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon, it's just not going to happen. Instead, I save my writing and idea generation time for the morning and sometimes at night, if I'm inspired. The other non-creative tasks of my day (email, bookkeeping, organizing classes, etc.), that can wait until the afternoon.
  4. Try new things. Trying something new can stretch you phyically, mentally, and/or emotionally. Taking risks also builds your courage and your confidence level. Opening yourself up to new experiences can start a snowball effect of generating ideas and allowing your creative floodgates to open.
  5. Don't be afraid to be wrong. Fear is the ultimate buzz-kill. Creative flow cannot happen if you are afraid of being wrong, afraid that what you create isn't good enough, or afriad of what others will think. In many ways, this goes hand-in-hand with tip #4, try new things. The more you try new things and realize that you will survive if you take a chance, the less fearful you become that you'll be wrong the next time.
  6. Physical movement. This is where taking a shower comes into play. There's a connection between physical movement and creative flow. Walking, biking, bouncing on an exercise ball, taking a shower, cooking dinner...physical movement doesn't necessarily have to be exercise, but it does have to involve moving your body. So get moving...and see what your creative brain comes up with.

In conclusion, there are people much smarter than me who have spent their lives learning about creativity. If you want to know more, here are some good places to start:

Follow me on Twitter @KimberlySMoore for daily updates on the latest research and articles related to music, music therapy, and music and the brain. I invite you also to check out my website, www.MusicTherapyMaven.com, for additional information, resources, and strategies.

About the Author

Kimberly Sena Moore

Kimberly Sena Moore, Ph.D., MT-BC, is a board-certified music therapist, blogger, and professor at the University of Miami.

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