Last week, I received a call from a young woman who was interested in exploring the IDCD (Instructional Design and Content Development) course. During our discussion, she asked me if her lack of creativity would in any manner hamper her performance in the course. It is a question that I’ve fielded many times in the last fourteen years, and fortunately, I’ve done it with a conviction that comes from a long experience with creativity.
I’ve been creative in at least three different areas, and all these areas, I’ve been sufficiently creative to be considered a professional. These three areas are art, fiction-writing, and training/elearning content development. My experience tells me that when I’m being madly creative in one area, I’m only marginally creative in the other two. Why? Because creativity begins by submerging yourself in a context.
Igniting, Harnessing, and Channeling your Creative Potential – An Example
Here’s a recent example. We’ve been thinking of bringing you the REDAC (Rapid eLearning Development with Adobe Captivate) course for a while now. So when in January end, I applied myself to designing this program, I had to break away from a historical fiction piece that I was writing. You could say that I could spend a few hours on my fiction writing endeavor and the remaining on designing the REDAC course. Unfortunately, this sort of multitasking becomes very difficult when you are trying to divide your time between two very different types of creative endeavors. (If your day job is that of a banker, an accountant or a shop floor engineer who works on job-scheduling, then you can be a creative writer in the evenings – because there isn’t a creative clash.)
- Fiction writing is imaginative, colorful, descriptive where you must visualize scenes and characters and you must make them come alive through an interesting use of dialogs, its purpose is to entertain, and it uses the “Storytelling” framework to create the final expression. It also requires that I immerse myself in the context of the era in which I’m situating my story.
- Training Design is logical, connective, direct, and its purpose is to impart learning, and it uses the “instructional design’ framework to create the final expression. It requires that I immerse myself in the context of the discipline/software (its capabilities, its connection with eLearning, and so on…)
The right way to begin was to pluck my mind out of the historical context (for fiction-writing) and drop it into the subject context (in this case Adobe Captivate, for training design.) Since I’m good with both the storytelling framework as well as the training design framework, all I needed to do was immerse myself in a new context.
How is Creativity Born?
In fact, creative expression is born from the union of the context and your mastery of the expression framework. For instance, if your goal is to create a fabulous training program that helps your training participants communicate better, 1. you must be an expert on the methods of training design and then 2. you must drown yourself into researching the the discipline of communication and how it impacts your audience. Since the IDCD course make you experts on the methods required for designing and developing training/learning content, all you must now do to creatively design a course/training is to drown yourself in the context and learn about it. Context for you would be your audience and the content.
What inhibits Creativity?
A lack of creative ideas usually arise due to any or many of the following:
- You believe that creativity is a spark, a chance event that happens automatically or it doesn’t.
- You believe that people are either born creative or non-creative – and that you were born non-creative.
- You haven’t truly mastered the methods and the framework of instructional design.
- You have forgotten the methods, because you’ve been engaged in some other kind of activity for a while.
- You never realized that either mastery of methods or submerging in context was important for creativity.
- You have not been allowed time to submerge yourself in the required context.
- You are bubbling with ideas, but you worry that they might not be the best ones.
If any of these were true, we wouldn’t find people being creative in more than one way. We would also not find people turning creative and inventing and innovating, at different stages of their lives. And truth be told, we would not find fascinating courses being created all the time.
A Couple of Creativity Quotes:
I’d like to end this with a quote.
“We are all born with infinite potential and creativity. We all have it in us. Each and everyone. And that is the only truth.” – Deepak Chopra.
and quite humbly one of my own,
“Our mind is a treasure chest of slumbering creative nodes that just need to be woken up in the right environment to let our creativity flow.” – SRA.
My book on Creativity, in which I present my own method of Creative Thinking as a model that would answer the question, “How can I be creative?” shall soon be arriving on your favorite bookstore. Until then, do ponder upon the question – “What makes us creative?”