Maybe you’re not one of those writers who sometimes says (or thinks), “I’m just not very creative.” But you may sometimes be jealous of others’ creativity. Or wish at times that you were more so.
Join the club. We could all use at least a little more creativity in our lives, our thinking, and our writing. So, since my weekly “midrash” (Bible study) group has been discussing the first chapters of Genesis in recent weeks, I wondered if I might learn something about creativity from our Creator. That’s not the primary purpose of Genesis 1 and 2, of course; but maybe it could be helpful to learn about creativity from the first and foremost in that category, know what I mean? So here are a few “keys to creativity” from the creative activity of Genesis 1 and 2:
- Make it a daily habit.
Maybe the “days” of Creation were twenty-four hour days and maybe they weren’t. But it’s interesting nonetheless to note that God, who surely could have created everything at once, didn’t. Judging from the depiction of creation in Genesis 1, He spaced it out, so to speak. I think that’s fascinating. Maybe it suggests that a daily or regular habit of creativity—whether that’s writing a little each day, journaling every day, or something else—is a good idea and fosters more creativity in the long term. (In fact, I think there’s reason to believe that God’s creative action continues to this day, a la Psalm 139 and Lamentations 3:22-23.)
- Use your words.
God spoke, and it was so, right? We all know that creation sprang forth at His command (Hebrews 11:3). We can’t do that, but maybe it does foster creativity if we go ahead and speak or write the things we hope and dream. This is partly why I plan and set goals every year (and review them at midyear); even when I more or less forget them from month to month, I’m often surprised at midyear or the end of the year at how many still seemed to take shape and come to pass.
- Critique yourself regularly.
Except for “day two” of creation, God apparently reviewed and evaluated His creative actions every day, pronouncing them “good” and, eventually, “very good.” How interesting that even God, in His perfection, saw degrees of excellence in His own work. Wow. Whatever you draw from that, regularly evaluating your own creative work is a good idea. It may simultaneously teach you important things about yourself and raise the level of excellence in your work.
- Springboard new ideas from old creations.
God spoke, and the universe was created. But for the creation of humanity, “God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7, NLT). He used existing materials, reshaping something He’d already spoken into existence. So it may be with us. Creativity breeds creativity. One project leads to another; and where it stops, nobody knows.
Perhaps being made in God’s image, as those early chapters of Genesis say, involves the ability—and calling?—to be creative. If so, these four simple suggestions may be a great way to start. What tips or techniques do you use to foster creativity?
Quiet. My best work grows out of gentle emptying of my mind. God plants the seed of a creative idea into that open space, and I nurture it. I don’t have to be in a quiet space, but I have to shut down the hamster-wheel in my brain for a few moments and connect with the Creator.
I’m never more creative than on my annual silent prayer retreat. It seems as though half of the year’s ideas spring out of that silence.
Shirley, love the hamster wheel image! What woman can’t relate to that as we daily deal with the churning of our minds in our battle to establish world peace.
Just because we find a quiet environment, we still need God’s help to set down our internal noise so Light can go to work.
Brennan S. McPherson
What an awesome post, Bob! Love it.
Thank you, Brennan.
Excellent and creative.
I love being creative, especially when my creativity is successful. Ha! Great post, Bob!
Over the past few years I have read mostly non-fiction. I found that studying business innovation really increased my ability to think creatively. It added some discipline and process to the madness of starting a project from scratch.
Proverbs and Psalms add an inspirational element. I don’t know why, but these 2 books seem to open up my mind the most.
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D
Bob, you are right on the money here! Thanks for the reminder that creativity breeds more creativity. I couldn’t agree more!
Bob, What a beautiful blog post. I love the notion that being created in God’s image indicates that we should be creative.
I find my creativity is enhanced by running. When I’m outside on the trails listening to an audiobook or inside on a treadmill watching a movie, I find my mind engages in a different way. (There are studies that show exercise may facilitate energy and creativity.)
I have also found that writing my New Years resolutions has an effect on what I do during the year — even if I don’t go back and review them. Somehow the act of writing cements my thoughts.
To give the enemy cause for complaint
and reason to wail and woe,
you’ve got to hit him where he ain’t,
not slug it, toe to toe.
Creativity of the field of blood
can get you home alive
and let you walk atop the flood
with Jesus at your side.
An application here to writing
should not be neglected;
like God’s own platypus – what a thing!
– create the unexpected.
Just come at stories from a different direction
and bask in your readers’ awed affection.
Andrew, you are inspiration to us all. Bob’s post is marvelous, and your poem is a wonderful addition. May your day be blessed,
Love the post. Love the topic. At the heart of love is creativity.
I love all of your points, especially the last one–He makes new things out of “old”.
I wonder, many times, in this post-modern, nonetheless technological society within which we live and breath that there is a conspiracy to mute the truth about how creative we are at heart (since we’re made in His image). I hope this helps someone as it did when it was imparted to me–namely, creativity is problem-solving.
In many respects, non-fiction writers have to figure out what’s the best order to present information to get the maximum “Aha!” from readers.
Fiction writers have to figure out many details of the “world” they’re building and the intricacies of the people they choose to inhabit those worlds. I only get stuck (so-called writer’s block) when I don’t relax and let myself live in the world and experience the characters in their circumstances–and not reject whatever thoughts about the story and characters that first come to mind, with the assumption that I’m a co-creator. And that is a creativity killer–letting the editor out of her/his office too early. It’s taken me a very long time, but I gag the editor in the first stages of creating. And as you say, it’s critical to let the editor (evaluator) out–but not too early.
Lastly, there are wonderful resources that outline theories of the creative process. I ascribe to theories so long as they make hay, or I can make hay out of them. I recommend reading “Creative Communication” by Johnson and Hackman. There are tons of other outstanding resources.
Shalom and Merry Christmas!
So sorry for the BLOCK! Ugh. That’s hard to read. Next time I’ll hit return more often. : )
Bob, as I was free writing from my hook for book two, I kept getting ideas for expanding book three’s hook. That sort of volley in a writer’s head is great but a fun challenge to keep it all organized. 🙂
This filled me today. The scripture presented this way felt like a calling up of my own creativity. Good stuff.
Surprised that no one has mentioned the very creative illustration for this post. I always marvel at the unique illustrations that accompany the posts. How appropriate! I can imagine the hand of God as it showers my brain with creative thoughts.
For me, there are no special tips or techniques for being creative. It is as the illustration depicts and what the post so wonderfully alludes to…God “watering” my brain.
Love the every day reminder. I find other creative people/work (art/music/film) inspire me to be creative.
I’m in the middle of a Genesis study as well and didn’t catch these insights. What a great reminder of who we are and to Who we belong!
For what it’s worth (to me, worth a lot!), more than 80% of the Bible is in the form of either story or poem; less than 20% is correspondence or teaching.
We’re in a blessed profession.
Great post, Bob, and love the responses!
I have always thought since God was creative (in any venue), and made in His image, then He created us to also be creative.
But, I’ve never taken it to this level of understanding, and what a wonderful revelation of Scripture in our lives. I never stop learning new truths from the Bible, it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime endeavor, and I continuously learn from wise folks about the meaning.
So… Well said!
Thanks for this insightful post. Great insights!
Don’t you just love creativity! I have kept a devotional journal for the past–oh, twenty-four years or so–and it keeps the juices flowing. Also, I can absorb inspiration from reading others’ writing. What a blessed calling we have!
I have always had a vivid imagination. When I was a kid, imagination was at its peak. Like the Peter Pan syndrome, we all tend to lose that when we get into our teen years we are encouraged to grow up and think critically. Right? Think like an adult. But it seems the good storytellers are the ones that know how to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary so it has to be regained. That happened to me, as well. But when I started my first fictional novel last year, it seems my imagination has started to return. I am quite happy about that. BTW, “midrash” is a Messianic term. I have led worship in a Messianic congregation for a number of years.
These are meaningful and applicable insights. Thank you for sharing such valuable words of wisdom and inspiration.
I have this theory that when I’m creative in one medium, that helps creativity in my writing. Using several coloring books sparks my creativity. Proving my theory is not scientific, but I trust the process. Thus, creativity breeds creativity.
Commenting on creativity: Albert Einstein once commented that The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” And, I think I read that someone asked him how he was so intelligent. He replied (and I paraphrase), “When you are a child you lie on your back and gaze at the clouds and wonder how they got there. Then you grow up and forget how to do that. Well, I never grew up.”