As a Consultant Radiologist responsible for quality for a team of around one hundred other doctors, I have a very left brain job. So left brain, in fact, that it can be hard to switch the controlling and marginally Obsessive Compulsive side off. I have the perfect antidote – I create. I’m a trained jeweller, milliner and bookbinder, and I also teach. An awful lot of students will tell me ‘I’m not creative,’ usually for one (or both) of two reasons: our school system crushes the spark of creativity in children at an early age, uniformity of thought and process is expected, and they haven’t been given the physical skills to make things. And yet, by the end of the class, given the same tools and materials, a fantastic varied array of items have been made. For me there’s a huge difference between creativity and crafting. Being ‘crafty,’ in the good sense, means that you have been trained in the physical skills to make something. For example an expert knitter might be able to knock up a complex Fair Isle jumper from a pattern, but probably couldn’t work out how to make a basic beanie. If you can cook without a recipe, draw, paint, dance and come up with a witty retort – you’re creative.
It’s all about problem solving: how do I get this idea in my head to be a ‘thing.’ Personally, I love taking something flat or linear, and shaping it into a 3D object, whether it’s paper, yarn, felt or silver.
How do we foster creativity?
You could suppress the left side of your brain with a cheeky glass of wine (or two), and I find that’s ok for writing, but tends to make you drop stitches, and around a soldering iron it’s positively dangerous. Much better to go for right brain enhancement – Inspiration: join Pinterest and make virtual mood boards, keep cuttings of shapes and colours, explore the work of your favourite artists, or snap something you love with your smartphone. Documentation: take a notebook everywhere and jot down sketches and concepts, Eureka moments are known to strike at the oddest times. Motivation: As well as making fab products, being creative has been proven to release just as much Serotonin, Dopamine and Endorphins as exercise (thank goodness!) Lastly, there are some specific reframing exercises, these work even if drawing isn’t your thing: Sketch something in 120 seconds, use a timer so you can’t cheat. Sketch something in 120 seconds, looking at the object in a mirror. Sketch something in 120 seconds, not lifting your pen from the page. Sketch something in 120 seconds, using your non-dominant hand. Sketch something in 120 seconds, focussing on the subject – don’t look at the page. Next time you have to mind map something, draw it rather than using words. Ironically, tight constraints make you look for novel solutions. As a teacher, my role is to be passionate about providing an adequate skill set, but also to provide guidance and inspiration. Go out there and create something! Be unique
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