The key to unlocking creativity is asking good questions.
There is no singular question, like having the key to a cupboard, to unlock creativity. It’s more like being given a set of keys to unlock many cupboards, boxes, safes, vaults and the little box you thought you’d forgotten about.
When you know which key unlocks which box, you have an opportunity to develop your creative skills.
Non-creative people, those who are yet to understand that they too, can BE a creative person, look on in wonder and ask, “Where do you get your ideas from?” They are looking at the key in their hand and using it to dig the wax out of their ears or stir the milk and sugar into their cup of tea.
The question is a default position where the person does not believe they can be a creative person, and they are seeking out a secret formula to unlock the means to creativity. The non-creative person thinks, “If only I had an idea I could be creative.” There is a two-fold belief system happening. First, I can’t be creative and second, I just need an idea and I’ll be creative.
These two belief systems stem from a lack of belief in a person’s ability to be creative. It gives the non-creative person an excuse NOT to do something, because they don’t believe they can generate an idea nor do they believe they have the skills to be creative. They compare themselves to others and think, “I can never be as creative as Person A or Person Z.”
For the creative person, the generation of ideas varies. Some have no problem finding ideas, others select their ideas judiciously while still others discover their ideas like diamonds, digging through layers and layers until they strike upon it.
Questions, Questions, Questions
The key to being creative lies in asking good questions. What those questions are will vary from person to person, and from medium to medium.
The writer may not ask the same question as the painter, or the photographer may not ask the same question as the musician.
There are two fundamental questions that all creative people ask:
What is the purpose of this work?
Who is my intended audience?
Beyond these basic questions, creative types need impetus and direction. To develop a creative life we need to ask questions that begin with “What…?” or “How…?” or “Why…?”
- What will challenge me?
- What have I not tried before?
- Who can I collaborate with?
- Why do I want to write or paint or draw or learn an instrument?
- Can I try this piece in a different genre? a different form?
- What inspires me?
- What negates my inspiration and sucks me dry?
- What do I want to achieve?
- What have I not achieved yet?
- Have I set a timeline for my goals?
- What skills can I learn from experimenting in a different medium?
In the search for understanding about what it means to be creative, to understand how a creative person generates ideas, we must ask good questions; ones that provide momentum and direction to our creative endeavours. Good questions help us understand our creative processes and build good creative habits.
If you have ever wanted to be creative, learn to ask good questions to help unlock your creativity and have a fulfilling creative life.
What questions would you ask to unlock your creativity?