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How to Maximise Your Creativity | Step 1: Expertise

Nurturing your creativity and your motivation to create is an important part of being a writer. Okay... but how do you actually DO that? Well, the Componential Theory of Creativity gives us a good place to start. Let’s explore that first component.

Today, I want to talk about something that every writer has in spades: creativity.

You’re a creative person, I know. How else could you come up with all those characters, worlds, stories, twists and turns? But why settle for the status quo when you could teach your mind to think in ways you never even considered before? Why settle for your “ordinary” when you could be extraordinary?

(Yep, I thought you might feel that way. That’s why I put together this series for you.)

Nurturing your creative side and maintaining motivation to create is an important part of being a writer, particularly if you want to write regularly. So how exactly can you do that? How can you find the motivation to write on a regular basis, without losing enthusiasm, and keep those creative juices flowing?

Taking a step further than that, is there a way to make yourself even more receptive to inspiration and more creative in your thought patterns? Well, there just might. That’s what we’re going to take a look at today.

Over the summer of 2014, I read an article by Teresa Amabile on motivating creativity, doing what you love and loving what you do. You can check it out for yourself here.

One feature of the article I find particularly interesting is the Componential Theory of Creativity, which says that everyone with normal abilities can produce creative works, and that your social environment, such as where you live and work, can influence just how creative you are and how often you channel your imagination. That take-away message is something I can really get behind:


Creativity isn’t fixed. Anyone can be creative and anyone can become MORE creative. Ready to learn how?

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So, by making some step-by-step changes in your life, you can improve your mental flexibility and how often you think in these creative ways. Perfect for a writer, right?

Let’s talk a bit more about this Componential Theory of Creativity then. It’s made up of three components, which Amabile states are necessary for outside-the-box thinking. In other words...

CREATIVITY = EXPERTISE + CREATIVE THINKING + INTRINSIC TASK MOTIVATION

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the first component: expertise. It’s a formidable word, isn’t it? It doesn’t just apply to scholars or professionals or specialists though. You have expertise too, trust me. You just might not realise it yet.

So what is expertise?

As you might expect, expertise in an area includes remembering factual knowledge, being technically skilled, and having special talents in that area. If you apply those features to writing, you get something along these lines:

Factual knowledge about writing

This can be gained through reading fiction and observing what the author does, through reading books specifically about the craft of writing, and through writing yourself (i.e., learning through experience).

Being technically skilled at writing

As with anything, skills come from practice. Writing, and writing regularly, lets you improve your skills, hone your craft, become more knowledgeable about writing—the list goes on!

Having special writing talents

You’re a writer, which means you probably have an innate talent for imagining your story in vivid detail and thinking creatively about your plot. Combine that with your ability to identify problems in the story and ways to make it better, which come from your factual knowledge and technical skills, and it’s clear that you already have special writing gifts. You talented thing.


Over to You

To maximise your expertise, and from that, your creativity levels and frequency, try working on each of these areas. To do that, over the next week I challenge you to:

Read at least one article on the craft of writing

Read, absorb, learn, my friend! Don’t know where to start? I have psychology-packed archives on character and writerly minds, as well as a series on the storycrafting process for you to sink your teeth into. If you’re looking for even more wordy goodness, I recommend these fantastic resources:

Spend at least 5 minutes writing a day

Or every other day. Or several times a week. Whatever works best for you and your lifestyle, as long as you’re writing regularly and consistently—because these are key to improving your skills in a way that’s purposeful and intentional.

Need help getting your regular writing practice started? Join me for the Writember Workshop and learn how to build the ultimate writing routine, find your personal motivation triggers, inspire yourself on demand and become a master of self-discipline, all over the course of 30 days.

Re-imagine your latest scene from the perspective of three different characters

Now to start working on that mental flexibility. Choose an important scene in your current project and change the point-of-view character to someone completely unexpected. Write or imagine that scene as vividly as you can from the other character’s perspective. Now do the same again with two other characters and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the focus of the scene change, depending on who’s narrating?
  • What details of the scene might one character notice that the others don’t?
  • Why are those different details important to that character? Why do they notice them? (Consider outlook, emotional interference, etc.)
  • What do the differences between each perspective teach you about those characters and storytelling?

So that’s your assignment for this week, writers. Sound fun? I’d love to hear from you, so pop a comment in the section below and let us know how you’re finding these challenges!