The Reflection Pool

How to Unlock Your Creativity

Kevin Ashton says creativity isn’t magic. His book, How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention and Discovery explores many examples and shows that humans don’t wait for some kind of divine inspiration and then mystically start creating. The idea comes first, but it’s only a seed. Tenacious hard work through a series of small steps creates the final product.

When I create, I make something new. Most of us have some experience of this through cooking. We get the idea, we assemble the needed materials and we work through the steps of a recipe to make something yummy. But becoming a good cook doesn’t happen magically. You need to create many dishes, and you’ll have some failures (maybe some spectacular ones – like a cake I made as a teenager where I used salt instead of sugar. Oops!) before you can call yourself a cook.

Yup, I made this!

My writing is the same. I love it, and it’s a satisfying way to take an idea, expand it and synthesize previous thinking. But I’ll tell you, it’s hard work. Successful writers back this up when they talk about the discipline and time needed to create an article, essay, poem, novel or story.

I have lots of ideas from many different sources. Ideas are easy, they’re lying all over the place. I’ll confess that there are 37 draft ideas waiting in my blog draft folder. It’s another thing to work them up into a post.  I try to nail down the purpose of my post and sketch out a framework before I begin. I want to write a good lede.  What actually happens is a lot of back and forth. I write, I delete, I cut and paste, I preview the post, I re-read and rewrite until finally it’s good enough. Once I hit “publish” there’s a lot of satisfaction. I created something new for me.

Creativity isn’t something only special people are born with. We all have it. It’s in the ideas we see and seek out. It’s in the time we insist on setting aside and spend working through the steps to figure things out and make something new.  We cultivate it by trying and failing and trying again.

Maybe you’re an educator creating a blog for your classroom community or an amazing learning experience for your students. Maybe you want to write a YA story. Maybe you want to check into the maker community.  Go for it. Start with the idea and get tenacious.

7 thoughts on “How to Unlock Your Creativity

  1. Thanks for writing this, Sue. It reminds me that when we do get creative or move outside our strict to-do lists, we are often invigorated. For me, creativity supports my well being. How about you?

  2. Sue, I love this post! Writing is how I create, and while I never seem to come quite as close to polishing my posts as you do — I applaud you for doing so — I know that blogging is one of my best ways to self-regulate. I think this connects with Kristi’s well-being comment. So I can get creative and feel better! Now I’m thinking it might be the two of you that inspire me to take this 5 day challenge. I’ve never done a blogging challenge before. Can I do this? I must admit a little fear is making me think creatively. 🙂


  3. Thanks for this! I have a lovely round loaf of bread rising on my table right now, so that image caught my eye!

    My #onewordONT for 2018 is CREATE. Perhaps it is somewhat in conflict with beginning a new role in a new province, but I know that it is essential for my well-being, and it’s where I am most likely to sigh and say there isn’t time.

    So much of our work as educators requires us to dig deep and really be creative, particularly in how we share new ideas. I too have a lot of blog ideas sitting in DRAFTS (not quite 37 though! :)) and I treasure the time when I can sit with them and organize them in some coherent way so that they can catalyze a conversation or the formation of another new idea. It is hard work. I’m not always happy with the results. Often I rewrite even after hitting publish.

    But as Brandon Grasley told me early in our blogging adventures, writing and sharing gives you the opportunity to go back and rethink. “I used to believe ….., now I believe ….” Growth is evident in the process.

    As educators, I wonder how many of us went to schools that made us think we were NOT creative? How can we work to change that for today’s learners?


    1. Donna, thanks for taking the time to comment. There has been a narrow definition of creativity in the past that we’ve probably all suffered from. Sometimes taking a risk and then believing it’s good enough is fine. Learners today would benefit from knowing that all humans are creative – it takes hard work and stick-to-it-iveness!

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