In this article contributed to Dreamwriters by Kezia Swanepoel, a creative media expert, writer, and English teacher from South Africa, she analyzes the main reasons why kids are so naturally creative and what we can learn from them. Much of her learning is drawn from her own experience as an educator and from her research into creativity.
1) They go wherever their minds take them
For the most part, kids are unhindered by the past or the future. This allows them to be fully immersed in whatever they’re doing at the present moment. When kids play freely, they enter the “flow” state where creativity is at its peak. Emotions are channeled into the task at hand and ideas come naturally. As adults, we desperately try to chase this state but often fall short. Our minds are cluttered with whatever our lives consist of; to-do lists, responsibilities, regrets. They disrupt our creative flow and leave us feeling demotivated. We tend to judge whatever comes to mind when we are sitting down and being creative, which is the opposite of our intentions. What we can do is surrender and let our minds go wherever they take us, then write it down!
2) They don’t play by the rules
We are often measured by the yardstick of how best we conform to structure. Adults are expected to be rational and sensible. We get to work on time and adhere to a daily schedule. There is a distinct lack of imagination when we strictly play by the rules. Kids play without limits and fully use their creativity. One moment they could be fighting a dragon; the next, they are top chefs brewing a rainbow soup. Changing up our daily lives is essential to finding inspiration. Stopping to look at art, taking the scenic route home or making up stories about strangers on the bus. These are all ways to inject imagination into the seemingly mundane.
3) They aren’t trying to be anyone else
There is an old quote by Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” For kids, they have the luxury of not knowing who else to be. Their voices are unique to them and in conversation, you will experience their unfiltered thoughts and views. They draw and create what interests them, not caring about an audience. They don’t hold back from creating for fear of being judged by their peers or social media. Adults have been conditioned to self-censor out of fear and criticism, both internal and external. What we can learn from kids on this point is to embrace our voice, however unrefined we think it is, and the fact that not everyone is going to like it. The reward is true expression of self.
4) They don’t conform to the idea of bad ideas
For every masterpiece, there are 100 mishaps along the road. When kids are playing and being creative, they aren’t labelling their ideas as bad or good. As adults, we find most of our ideas are terrible. The point is to have ideas. Take one or two and work on them. If they are indeed terrible, it’s okay. The benefit is that you’re practicing and will one day reach an idea you think is good.
The main thread running through all of these lessons from kids is that we need to be open-minded when it comes to creativity. If not, we run the risk of losing our enthusiasm and wonder in life.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.