What are some common misconceptions that people have about creativity? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Safi Bahcall, Biotech Entrepreneur and Author of Loonshots, on Quora:

A common misconception about creativity is that you have it or you don't. That you somehow are or aren't a creative person.

That's not true. Everyone has creative potential. (If you are a member of the homo sapiens species--you got it.) Even better news: There are tools and techniques for nurturing that potential.

For example, if you're sure that you aren't a creative person: start by recalling any one time, no matter how distant or what context or how brief a moment it might seem now, that you think you might have produced something that it's fair to call creative.

What were you doing right before that moment? What might happen if you got yourself into that mindset again? If you gave your mind permission to play? How much creativity can you stand?

Everyone has a disciplined soldier inside who's focused on planning and order and organizing (the brain's executive function). And they also have a mind-wandering, free-associating creative: an artist (possibly part of the brain's Default Mode Network).

You develop your creativity by recognizing, first, that both the inner soldier and the inner artist are good for you and can help you. Next, you give the inner soldier / critic / perfectionist some time off. Go away for a bit, take a nice hike somewhere, it's the artist's turn to play.

Next, you pick a playspace. It might be a blank of paper for sketching. Or for writing words--any words, any form, any meaning. Or for painting. Or folding into weird origami shapes. Or your playspace might be an instrument. Or it might be the gym or the outdoors--it doesn't matter.

Finally: you commit to doing a lousy job. You're just playing so whatever paint you splash on a canvas or words you throw on a page or notes you bang out on an instrument: it doesn't matter. Just doing it and letting your mind wander and play and experiment is the point.

The more you rinse and repeat the more your creative muscle will grow and expand and surprise you.

Truly visionary innovators are not born that way. They are the ones who have grown their creative muscles through practice and have learned to balance their inner artist and soldier.

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Published on: Mar 15, 2019