Are you creative?
What was your first reaction to the question? You probably thought in artistic terms. If you knit or draw, you may have categorized yourself as creative. Those of you who design great book art projects or bulletin boards tend to do the same. But there is more to creativity than art.
When you consider redesigning your library to meet current needs, you need to be creative. When you want to come up with a project that will excite and engage students, you need to be creative. When you want to get more money for the library program (an outgrowth of the previous statement), you need to be creative.
Any time you want to move past the status quo, you need to be creative. We are all creative, and, frequently, more creative than we realize. But what do we do on the days when we are so tired the thought of being creative is beyond us? How do we break out of that “too tired to think” sense?
Alaina Love has some great recommendations for how to spark your creativity in Building an Imagination Process. As I do, Love recommends “establish[ing] a space for imagination.” She proposes four steps for doing this.
Value the Trinity – Love says we need the trinity of imagination, inspiration, and creativity – to be creative. You can free your imagination by asking, “what if?” For example, what would my library program and facility be like if money weren’t an issue? Creativity will flow from there. Don’t censor yourself by thinking you will never get the money. First get the idea. You can then get creative about money sources.
Establish and Value Your Process – I love the phrase she uses: “It’s hard to get creative in the middle of a hurricane.” What she means by this is you may need to change your surroundings to free your imagination. I’ve written often of my passion for walking. When I’m out and about, I let my brain run free and think of words and phrases associated with what I’m working on. On my return, I record my thoughts. With these new ideas igniting my thinking, I am ready to form them into a concrete plan of action..
Find what works for you. It could be journaling or sitting quietly in a comfortable chair. What matters is that you find the method that sets your imagination free. Then cultivate it.
Be Judgement Free – All that matters is what is right for you. Don’t stress about whether your way is the best way or if you should try something different. Best is not the answer. As long as you are thinking in new and creative ways you are doing it right. It’s much like not censoring whether the ideas you generated can be achieved.
You may not be immediately successful. You are establishing (creating?) a different practice. It takes time to be comfortable with it. As long as you’ve stopped thinking about the “hurricane,” you are heading in the right direction.
Start Small – In another great expression, Love says you shouldn’t try to “boil the ocean.” Start with the project to engage students rather than developing a new library program and facility. See how the space you have created works for you.
As you get better at this, you will automatically tweak how you get into your imagination space. It will be comfortable. Make it a regular part of your week.
Developing this practice will give you a direction, resulting in changes that will demonstrate the leader you are – and your value to your students, teachers, administrators, and the community. Just imagine what that would be like.