10 WAYS TO STAY CREATIVE AS YOU GET OLDER

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


For some reason, I find myself believing that younger kids are more creative than older ones. They have bigger imaginations and bigger dreams, and, in some cases, better ideas.
I believe that this is because the older we grow, the more we experience and learn reality. Because we learn that one of our ideas “isn’t realistic,” we discard that idea altogether and throw out all other ideas like it.

But why do we do that? Just because it’s “not realistic” doesn’t mean we can’t think about it or make something that reflects it. There might not be any green monsters with six eyes living under our beds, and we’ll eventually learn that truth, but why can’t we keep these little inklings of imagination with us and spin them into stories?
I’m firmly convinced that the best and most creative people are the ones who are able and willing to tap into their younger selves’ thoughts and ideas, and then use their life experiences to deepen and broaden those concepts. While many will admire the literary merit of Lord of the Flies, I’m fascinated by William Golding’s ability to take the deserted-island trope and turn it into something realistic but all the more creative because of it. The book doesn’t have a happy ending, but it has the ability to relate to the dreams of my younger self (and the dreams I still sometimes think about to this day. Seriously, how crazy would it be to get stranded on a deserted island? What would I do?).
There are ways to prevent yourself from limiting your creativity. It’ll require more effort on your part, but you’ll find that, in the end, your efforts to preserve your creativity will pay off (because you'll be the coolest, craziest old person ever).


ONE - Do the things you want to do, regardless of age
Want to build a fort in the backyard? Do it. Want to do the fifty-cent pony ride outside of the grocery store? Go for it. Don’t limit yourself. Make sure you have boundaries, obviously--don't go toilet-papering your hated third-grade teacher's house--but don’t care what other people think. Have fun. Life is too short to worry about what’s proper and what’s not. And besides, having silly experiences will teach you to laugh at yourself.


TWO - Don’t limit your life to one sphere or circle
I personally have several different spheres of life through which I rotate. My Internet lifestyle--you guys--is one sphere of life. My school friends are another circle. My family and family friends are another circle. Church is another circle. If I went to a tennis academy or an art school, those would be different spheres as well.
I don’t think the goal is to have as many different spheres of life as humanly possible, nor is it to keep those specific worlds segregated from each other. In fact, keeping those parts of your life separate from one another can be harmful to your identity as a person. But, at the same time, I think it’s important to meet new people and discover new things. Take a cake decorating class! Or a computer engineering class! Or go to the dog park regularly and meet other dog owners! There are always new activities to try and new people to meet and, consequently, more inspiration to draw from and more diversity in your life. If you’re grounded in who you are as a person already, meeting new people and experiencing new ideas will both change some of your perspectives and strengthen your beliefs.  


THREE - Explore more
This pairs with number two, but in a broader sense. From varying the littlest things you do each day to taking the biggest leaps of faith you’ll ever take in your entire life, changing your own lifestyle to expand your comfort zone will induce you to have more adventures to store away and, consequently, more life experience from which to draw imagination and inspiration. Think back to a particularly emotional period in your life. What emotions do you feel from that point? How does that translate into what you create?


FOUR - Find a creative community
Find a place where you can share your artwork/creations with other people. For me, this is the blogger community. I can publish what I write and do and say, and I have the privilege of reading and viewing what other people have created as well. It’s not so much as a creative critiquing community as it is a creative cheerleading community. I love most of the people I’ve met on here (save one or two spammers, who might not even be people at all). It’s kind of me separating myself from my own life and, instead of being judged on how I look or sound or act, I’m judged off of what I create. And to me, that’s a good thing.


FIVE - Keep learning
We never stop learning. In fact, my parents always say, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. And that’s the truth. I can string words together, but I can’t write like J.K. Rowling or C.S. Lewis. I can carry a tune, but I certainly don’t have the voice of Aretha Franklin. I know basic biology and chemistry, but never, ever come to me with your science problems--I won’t be able to do them.
Look into what interests you, and learn what doesn’t. It might be useful for you later in life.


SIX - Write out your experiences + thoughts
Even if you hate writing, write out where you are at certain points in your life. I have a journal that’s kind of like my cleaning journal--whenever I deep-haul-clean my desk and bedroom, I always come across it, and I always write in it. I have a journal from 2013 that I never finished. I have a calendar in which I wrote about little significant moments from every single day in 2015. I have my other blog. And I have this one. This way, you won’t forget what you’ve done or what you know.


SEVEN - Use creativity in solving your real-life problems
In my spare time, sometimes I think of how to solve the world’s problems (I know, I have a thrilling life). Sometimes I come up with wildly crazy ideas to solve America’s illegal immigration problem. Sometimes I write down what I’ll say if someone questions my beliefs. Other times, I have practical problems--problems like “How do I find my phone?” or “How am I going to do all of my homework this evening when I have a symphony to go to?” or “How am I going to get this blog post written before tomorrow?” (Answer: write it at 11:50 at night, which is what I’m doing right now.)


EIGHT - Be weird
Wear crazy socks. If you’re not a crazy sock kind of person, break into a spontaneous dance. If you’re writing a speech, write your speech in free verse. Stand out from the crowd, not to draw attention to yourself, but to stretch the limits of social constraint you hold over yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Everyone’s weird in his or her own way.


NINE - Start new trends
You don’t have to have a viral video or make wearing white Vans a thing, but everything you do, say, wear, and post has an impact. Maybe you like wearing funky headbands. Or maybe you develop a cool new pattern for beanies. Maybe you make up a word. Stand by your zany decisions, and maybe others will learn to stand by you. Ever heard of the book Frindle, by Andrew Clements? (If you haven’t read his books, I HIGHLY recommend. Frindle is an insanely good book.)
In Frindle, the main character of the story, Nick, comes up with a new word for pen. Even though his teacher disregards it and does everything she can to stop the spreading of the word, he keeps using the word frindle, and steadily it catches on until gains enough momentum to sweep across America. And you know what struck me the hardest as I was reading the book? How utterly believable the scenario was. Clements’ middle grade books are extremely realistic, and his characters feel like people you’d come across in everyday life. With the advent of social media and technology, trends can be ignited more quickly than ever before. With a good idea and the single tap of a button, you can set a trend.
Creative people are the trendsetters, because they’re the ones who do different things. Be a trendsetter.


TEN - Keep creating
The most important one. This one is self-explanatory. How are you supposed to stay creative if you stop creating things?


Don’t underestimate yourself. Don’t overestimate yourself. Remember what you dreamed of when you were younger, and go for it. Live in the moment, but not too much. Plan ahead, but not too much. You never know where life is going to take you, but always remember that in every scenario, every problem, every circumstance, you can always make something of it. And not just in the creative sense, either.

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