How Do You Cultivate Creativity?

How Do You Cultivate Creativity?

Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits. – Twyla Tharp

Before the Big Melt, while our window boxes were still filled with frozen sludge. I called my friend, Meg Taylor, of Anderson’s Florist, to schedule a Spring pick-me-up.

As a florist, Meg has a job that is not only creative and fun, it’s also dirty. Think sludge-chopping, mud-scooping, root mangling, worm handling and beetle squashing (well, I’m not sure about that last part). Meg loves it all, but for me the best part is at the end: when I get a window box filled with smiling pansies.  

Meg’s visit got me thinking about gardens: how gorgeous they are, and how much work has to happen ahead of time in order for them to flourish. They need to be cultivated.

Merriam Webster defines “cultivate” this way:

     verb     cul·ti·vate \kel-ta-vāt\
               : to prepare and use (soil) for growing plants
: to grow and care for (plants)
: to grow or raise (something) under conditions that you can control


If you ask me, the third definition  – the one without beetles – is the one to go for. In her new book, Cultivating Creativity, Maria Fabrizio talks about the things we can do to prepare ourselves for “the ripe moment, when the potential of an idea is able to grow into something useful.”

Not everyone has a green thumb, but we all need to tend our metaphorical gardens. Creative lives need to be tilled and watered and nurtured. As Twyla Tharp says, we need good work habits.

For me, part of preparing the ground for creativity means:

            – taking time every day to read: a good novel, the New Yorker, a murder mystery, something that immerses me in a world different than my own

            – taking a few minutes every day to fool around with art. Having materials close at hand makes it easier to do – though it’s not a sure thing, even when you work in an art studio

            – keeping things in order. Easier said than done.


What habits do you have – or wish you had – to cultivate your own creativity? Let us know in the comments.

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