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Creativity is a sought after quality across various fields, from arts to the more deterministic hard sciences. Creativity is usually assigned when something is novel, entirely new, and is usable in differing ways. The object of creativity can be something physical like new products or designs, or it can be something abstract, like a new idea or thought. Creativity is considered a positive quality and most people strive to be creative in what they do. Theories of creativity, mostly involving the work of Mihaly, consider four elements: the individual, the space, the process, and the outcome. The traits which overlap in these four elements determine if there is creativity. What is also important is that any negative in these four areas is detrimental to creativity, such as stagnation, inability to focus, ego-depletion, and hubris. Ergo, there are things that kill creativity. Here are ten things that kill creativity.
10. Stagnation and Monotony
When there is a routine, it helps in the regulation of practice and application. However, things will begin to stagnate when you are doing the same things over and over with no result. Repetition is good, but it is entirely stagnating monotony when the results are always the same. Additionally, stagnation is a sign that you are growing too comfortable with what you are doing and not taking risks. Exploratory behavior and non-conformity are key components of creativity. This means finding out what is different and doing things differently from the norm (the set standard). Monotony prevents this because you’re following a set routine, doing the same thing. The outcome is also important: exploration and experimentation allow for different outcomes.
9. Disciplined Practice
Practice makes perfect, that is true. But creativity also comes from mastery. First master the basics before tearing down the norms for exploratory and experimental behavior. Without knowing the basic well, it is often impossible to be creative: things may already have been done before and in a better manner than you have envisioned. Having a strong foothold in basics allows you to know where you want to go and what you can do to break away from the conformist ideas in that area.
There is a desire to be perfect in process and product. But there is no straight line from inexperience to success. In between, there will be plenty of setbacks and failures. One important way to deal with perfectionism is to set a time limit or create very specific goals that will indicate exactly when you have accomplished a particular goal linked with creativity. Sometimes it may not be exactly to your likings, but instead of stewing over that one outcome, you can try to do better on the next attempt at something different.
7. Discouraging and Negative Feedback
One of the crucial aspects for fostering creativity is individual freedom and positive feedback in relation to the autonomy. However, society doesn’t like non-conformists. This can cause a lot of negative feedback for the individual. This means that if you do something that isn’t done usually, the response is largely likely to be negative. This discouragement can kill creativity, especially when there is no positive feedback to combat or counterbalance it.
6. Crippling Self-Doubts
Self-doubt is questioning one’s own self-efficacy (the confidence you have in your ability to accomplish certain tasks). While a certain amount is healthy as it keeps you on your toes about being overconfident, too much self-doubt can cripple creativity. Detrimental self-doubt can stop you from beginning your work or going through with a particular project to its completion. Starting is the hardest part of any task, and seeing it through to the end is the second hardest part – self-doubt tells you that you aren’t good enough for both.
5. Ego and Humility
The ego plays a huge role in creativity, egocentric thought dominates our lives – we always speak and think using “I”, everything is always in reference to the self. However, when there is over-attribution of ability to self, over confidence occurs. This also kills creativity, because then people start to do things in order to satisfy their ego, and overlook the practical application of their creative products.
Passion is key to creativity. Sometimes this can dry up because it is considered or looked at. External events and internal feelings can drive people away from their passions, so from time to time, it is best to relook at why you chose a certain idea or product to work on. Apatheia is the Greek term for apathy, which is stoic removal from emotions. But this kills creativity, which passion is a fuel for. Strong emotions can be intrinsic motivation (motivation that is internal and comes from morals, values, or beliefs), while extrinsic motivation (motivation that is based on material reward) is one that dries up quickly. Use your emotions to wisely motivate yourself.
3. Collaborate Not Envy
Envy and jealously of those better than us is normal, it shows that there is rift in talent and it is a natural part of the world that there are differences in ability and talent. Talent is inherent, something that is there without effort. However, ability is gained through training and practice. Instead of jealously and envy, collaborate with those who you think are better than you – this ensures that you may learn something from them, for they have something that you do not which makes them better.
There is not enough time, there are other things to do, I have so many other obligations. These are some of the more common excuses people give to avoid creative tasks. Creative tasks are not easy ones, and require a great deal of attention. Social loafing – where difficult tasks are given to others, and procrastination, leaving something to do later (indefinitely) are excusing behaviors that people engage in. Instead of speaking or thinking about the creative task, just sit down for five minutes and you will find that you tend to see the task through to its end. This is the 5-minute rule to combat the difficult of beginning a task.
1. No Focus and Drive
Most importantly, focus and drive are important for creativity. “The whole is bigger than the sum of its parts”, says Gestalt philosophy. This means that all the little things should add up to something greater. If you don’t see the holistic picture, the creativity is killed. There is no point to what you are doing, and it seems pointless to engage with such a difficult task if there is no worthy outcome. Thus, to combat this, always consider what the long-term outcome of the creative task is going to be before you begin. Though this can change, it will make sure that you aren’t working in a wasteful manner.