Unleash Your Creative Self

Why is creativity important in everyday life? Simply put, it is because it makes life infinitely interesting and fulfilling. Creativity is a way of living life that embraces originality and makes unique connections between seemingly disparate ideas. Creativity is about living life as a journey into seeing and communicating the extra-ordinariness of the simplest everyday acts.

“Everything’s already been thought of.” “I don’t even know where to start.” “I’m just not a creative person.” We’ve all had those frustrating moments when we’re expected to come up with a brilliant new idea, but no matter how much we squint at our computer screens, we just can’t seem to think of anything good. That’s when we look over at our peers who are “creative types” and wonder why we didn’t inherit any of those creative genes ourselves.

Can creativity be learned?

The short answer is yes. A study reveals that we are naturally creative and as we grow up we learn to be uncreative. Creativity is a skill that can be developed and a process that can be managed.

Creativity is actually a skill that can be learned.

People often think of creativity as an ingrained feature. There is some truth to this. Some people are, by nature, more creative. However, there are a variety of ways you can bolster your creative side. Established rituals, like journaling, boost creativity. Working on changing your mindset, opening yourself up to new ways of thinking, can also increase your creativity to a great extent. You can also seek support from others. Networking with likeminded people can help you be more creative yourself.

Creativity begins with a foundation of knowledge, learning a discipline, and mastering a way of thinking. You can learn to be creative by experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesing information. Learning to be creative is akin to learning a sport. It requires practice to develop the right muscles, and a supportive environment in which creativity flourishes.

when creativity dies, start copying

Creativity is a skill that you can work on with time, training, and effort. There are many areas you can focus on to improve your overall creativity. Engage in creative exercises like reading, writing, and listening to music to sharpen your creativity. Learn as much as possible and open yourself up to new ideas and experiences. Make lifestyle changes like walking more, exercising regularly, and getting more sleep to give your brain the boost it needs to increase your creative skills.

Overcoming myths about creativity

Beliefs that only special, talented people are creative, diminish our confidence in our creative abilities. The notion that geniuses such as Shakespeare, Picasso and Mozart were `gifted’ is a myth, according to a study at Exeter University.

In creative problem-solving, a mistake is an experience to learn from, which gives out a valuable information about what to try next. People often pack in their efforts because they are afraid of making mistakes. But if you take no chances and make no mistakes, you fail to learn, let alone doing anything unusual or innovative.

So just go out there and embrace failure. Take on the rejections and keep going. Keep practicing. Soon, thou shalt find thy way!

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou

The Family Photo (Short Story)

a short story by praveen singhmar

They all had come in for the birthday party and were waiting in the lawns for the lunch to open when he asked them to gather around the fountain for a group picture. A few of them complied with him, especially the children. The elders did not really bother to move. So he requested again and so a few more moved and settled down at the stairs near the fountain.

The camera did not have a tripod to support itself and because he also wanted to be a part of the picture, he used an abandoned cot to place the camera on. But he figured out that the cot was too low for the height of the stairs and so he needed to pile up the cot with some books and other articles before he can put the camera over it. While he was tirelessly piling up the cot, the objects of the picture grew impatient and a few started scattering around. So now he had to talk to the group to keep them from moving while also trying to adjust the camera on the piled up cot. He had achieved a little success in his ordeal when a gentle wind blew down the pile of old books and empty chocolate boxes. He somehow managed to save the camera.

Suddenly it occurred to him that if he turned the cot horizontally up, it would allow him the perfect height for the picture. He hastened into turning it up but it was heavy. Meanwhile, the impatient crew had already started to depart from the stairs chattering among themselves. He panicked and lost hold of the cot, an iron leg of which fell directly over his left foot. It was painful. Yet he concealed the pain in order to not let go of the task at hand. His voice squealed as he again requested the family members to sit down for the picture. They could hardly hear him.

Finally, he managed to turn up the cot and placed his camera over it. But by this time, most of the people had left for the lunch and a few were blocking the frame. He asked the unruly blockers to settle down in the stairs for the shoot, but they were so engrossed in their discussion that they did not take notice of him. He felt awful. So he walked up to them and directed them to the stairs. They reluctantly moved away without looking at him.

Half of the family members were eating lunch by now and half of the other half was not interested in the picture. The rest had settled down in the stairs with the fountain running behind them. It was a beautiful view for the greenery of the lawns in the serene climate of sweet November. But when he looked it through the camera, he found that the frame had more trees than humans. He now had to move the cot closer to the stairs so that the image could be focused more upon its objects. So he slowly dragged the heavy cot with a lot of care.

By this time, a few more had moved out of the frame and so the bushes had grown in size again. So he moved further and reached almost at the feet of the stairs. Now, he could frame the members fully and focally. There were eight of them left, including him.

He tried to switch on the camera’s timer so that he could then sit on the stairs and be a part of the picture. But he could not find a timer. He realized that the camera was an old one and did not have a timer. In sheer frustration he swore loudly at the sky and decided that he would not be a part of the family photo. He turned around to take the photo of the remaining members only to find that nobody was there.

He sat down at the stairs and took a selfie.

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quentin tarantino – the creative motor

after his 8th blockbuster in a row: ‘the hateful eight’, which came out in 2015, mr. tarantino is taking all the time in the world to come up with his next stroke of brilliance, keeping us all wait for it. but we know for sure that the wait shall be worth it, because whatever tarantino does turns into gold. the next movie is likely to be based upon ‘the manson family murders in the 60s, and would probably cast brad pitt and jennifer lawrence in lead roles. this is the first time that tarantino is covering a real event.

tarantino is a creative motor that produces cult cinema, something that is rarely found elsewhere. here are a few charismatic features of his sublime creativity:

  1. style: all tarantino movies are highly stylistic and full of glamour. this one feature stands out if you place tarantino with other great directors of cinema. tarantino has a style that is entirely unique and fascinating and he may be termed as the most stylist filmmaker of cinematic history. right from reservoir dogs till the hateful eight, tarantino has maintained his own stylistic way of depicting life, something we keep craving for. and if we must believe him, tarantino has plans to leave us craving as he says that he shall make only 10 films in his entire film career.
  2. violence: it has to be there in a tarantino flick. it is the violence that makes all his films so powerful and thrilling. tarantino made his entry in filmmaking with the super-violent reservoir dogs and the streak has continued till the hateful eight where we have a bloody climax resulting in the death of all (sorry for the spoiler). by being so drastically violent, tarantino reminds us of shakespeare in a way, all whose tragic plays resulted into death of all the major characters. death being the primary event in the hateful eight, tarantino uses the 60s song: there won’t be many coming home, a ballad that talks about soldiers dying in war. what else violence does in tarantino movies is that it provides excellent thrill to the audience as we are never sure as to when somebody is about to die and so the audience is always on the edge of their seats.

    image source: forgetthebox.net
  3. dialogues: now, this one area is where tarantino is a genius and comes out as one of the best of all times. you simply can’t beat him at this. tarantino deliberately stretches his characters’ conversations longer than the usual so as to present them as more realistic and fun. he has the ability to mold the most plain and random daily conversations of random people into highly entertaining and interesting ones. tarantino’s dialogues exhibit certain inquisition that is very intriguing to the audience, and that slowly uncovers the plot of the film, thereby making the suspense expand to its maximum limits. the dialogues are full of humor and at the same time are lyrical in a modern sense that attracts complete engagement of the spectators.
  4. entertainment: well, the above points and some other factors including excellent performances, realistic action sequences, editing, direction, screenplay, background score, etc together make a tarantino movie incredibly entertaining as a whole. so much so that one always leaves the cinema hall wanting for more. and that is exactly what mr. tarantino’s plan is: to retire from the film arena leaving his fans wanting for more of him, as he says that he shall make only 10 films in his entire film career. guys, 8 have already been made. so if we must believe his words, there are only 2 more films that are going to come out of tarantino’s creative pen.

the most crucial aspect that sets tarantino apart from his contemporaries is his supreme vision. this man creates cinema not for the audience today, but for a upcoming generations. he wants to be known as the greatest filmmaker for decades to come. he wants his films to be viewed after 50-60 years from now by people not yet born. well, that seems possible, as after almost 25 years of its release, i can still watch pulp fiction as many times as you tell me to.

quentin tarantino is a true artist, a creative machine that will stop at will. if today we do not place him along the likes of shakespeare, pablo picasso and michelangelo, the future generation certainly will.

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why i don’t use uppercase in my blog

it is a marginalized world that we live in today. it was not so always. there were times when england ruled over most of the world, and it had the upper hand. and then america came into power during the two world wars. but now, the focus is shifting further to the countries that we never heard of for centuries. and it is a good sign. what it suggests is that it doesn’t make sense to capitalize certain letters and not capitalize certain others.

people have come to realize that the centre of the world is not england or america. it is us — the people, no matter in which country we live or which language we speak. we are the centre of the universe, every single soul. and that is why i don’t use uppercase in my blog. to me, all the words have equal power; all the alphabets are equally important to me.

freedom is the most important value to me. i think there is no higher purpose or goal than freedom. times have burdened us with rules and regulations, customs and practices. but we should nevertheless strive to be utterly free. any form of restriction is nothing but suffering and we must, in all circumstances, help ourselves and others to come out of suffering. as buddha said:

“when we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, the fruits are always understanding, acceptance, love, and the desire to relieve suffering and bring joy.”

and so i don’t bound my words with rules. i simply let them flow carefree. here are a few reasons behind my not using uppercase letters:

  1. i’m a lazy ass. yes, that’s true. although i try to fight out this trait of mine but mostly i lose the battle.
  2. most of the time, i am writing through a stream of consciousness. so caring about the form gets less significant than the communication of ideas.
  3. reaching out to the shift key breaks off the flow of words. so i consider it not worthy to let go of my thoughts while i’m out there looking for a damn shift key.
  4. i don’t believe in the perfect state of things. man is an irrational animal and has been so for thousands of years now. so trying to perfectize everything doesn’t always end up a success. hence, i let it be.
  5. this is the most crucial reason. e. e. cummings used capital letters only irregularly in his poetry and i love his style. his name is often styled “e.e. cummings” in the belief that the poet legally changed his name to lowercase letters only. he did not object when publishers began lowercasing his name. being a poet myself, i enjoy writing poetry in lowercase and find it attractive.
  6. talking of attractiveness, the lowercase looks more beautiful to eyes. ever noticed fully capitalized letters? all alphabets of all the words in caps? that look ugly to me. calligraphy is best viewed in its lowercase form, handwritten beautifully flowering the alphabets in design.
  7. beauty is a form of art and artistic beauty lies not in the perfect but in the imperfect and the raw. and so, i believe writing in lowercase justifies this artistic purpose.
  8. the final and the most obvious reason is that it’s my freaking blog. i’m the boss here and the boss like it this way. so, screw it, yeah. that’s how it will be. 😀

what makes a work of art great

an artist longs to create such great work of art that astonishes all and outshines its contemporaries. he dwells upon his craft for long years in order to come up with one such masterpiece that shall immortalize his being in the artistic arena. but he does not always achieve that feat. in fact, only one tenth of the entire artistic clan or even lesser is able to book its name in the historical records of grandeur. the rest fail and are forgotten.

so the question that becomes important here is what is it that makes a piece of art great. what work shall stand the test of time and shall be acclaimed as great work for generations in future. is there a formula to such grand success or one has to make his way through subjective experiments?

scholars have believed that in order create great work in the present, the artist must study the past, because without a resounding knowledge of the history, any creation would lack investigatory strength. it would be as if it stands on its own and its existence shall be a transient one. if, however, one has studied thoroughly the traditional patterns of his craft, one shall be in a better position to create great work.

m.m. bakhtin, the great russian philosopher and literary critic, says: “a work cannot live in future centuries without having somehow observed past centuries as well. if it had belonged entirely to today, (that is, were a product only of its own time) and not a continuation of the past or essentially related to the past, it could not live in the future. everything that belongs only to the present dies along with the present. … in the process of their posthumous life, they are enriched with new meanings, new significance: it is as though these works outgrow what they were in the epoch of their creation.”

what a beautiful idea that is! and how true! in order to be remembered in the future, one must work hard upon the past practices that have sustained through the present. t.s. eliot had similar views when in his essay — tradition and individual talent — he says: “no poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. his significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. you cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead.”

perhaps, that is the reason why great artists like quentin tarantino never forget to mention the classics when they come to talk about their own films. they are always inspired by the great work already done by the erstwhile filmmakers. if you watch “the hateful eight”, you’ll find that tarantino has tried to create a similar film as has already been made before, in terms of the impact it has on the audience. he says that the 1982 classic movie “the thing” is very similar to “the hateful eight” as it creates similar atmosphere for the audience.

so, you see, great work is not a creation of the artist’s mind alone. rather, it is an observance of what has already been achieved in the past and what has lingered on in the mind of the artist for long years that finally gets released into a new form of art. tarantino certainly works this way and is one of the best directors we have today. his films shall continue to be loved by millions in the future because he has picked his inspiration from great works that have stood the test of time. the same is true for shakespeare too. and that’s what makes a work of art great.

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how authentic are you

today’s times are tragic times. why? because image has become greater than reality. people often turn towards appearances, without realizing that looks are deceptive. authenticity is rarely valued and superficiality and artificiality has become the realm of the modern existence.

people no longer crave for art or intelligence. they are happy to go after the pseudo stereotypes that are prevalent, glossy and loud. i’m talking about the masses here. there are a few exceptions, of course. but largely, if you see, you find chaos, distractions, people following crap. The kind of songs we get to hear these days, especially the rap/hip hop ones, full of crap talk, it makes us hard to believe that it is the same country that have produced singers like kishore kumar and mohd rafi and musicians like SD burman and shankar jaikishan.

Now, you may call it collective stupidity or anything else, that’s what has doomed India’s progress on an international scale. Whereas in America, the masses are full of new startups and the youth is coming up with new ideas to change the world, in india, we are caught up in petty politics on the basis of caste and religion. We have leaders who are bent upon restoring the ancient practices back at the contemporary stage and we have youth in large numbers who blindly follow the traditional images of power and do not acknowledge democracy. During the day, these goons work in groups and assert power on innocent people on the basis of a specific traditional customs, and in the night, these goons criminally exploit and loot. Under such circumstances, where does one expect new ideas from the youth, where is the question of growth and meeting global standards.

Because everything has been commercialized, politics is no different. Politics is a good career option in india due to rampant corruption. A good candidate for politics just needs to have a great criminal background and several contact links in the existing government. That’s all and then your victory at the polls is confirmed.

Media plays an important role in this image and reality game. Being a part of the same commercialized structure of the capitalist economy of the country, media has to project and maintain an image that resounds with the general public, I.e. The masses, because if you can’t please the masses, you can’t keep the govt happy. Just like the masala movies, media has to add some masala to the news in order to feed the stupidity of mass audiences.

Tv channels are not so distinct domain from the media. In fact, they both fall under the same ballpark. Their most important value is TRP and they are willing to debase themselves to any level in order to maintain the TRP. Hence, the chaos. Now, the people like me, those who don’t watch TV, are blessed souls, because we can think, create and imagine new ideas. But the majority, the larger masses are devoid of this sensation. They are tragically trapped into the same blend of negative masala services that blind and numb.

I hope they come out of this trance and think for themselves what they are capable of dreaming and achieving. I hope india matures to be a world leader. Remember, there’s immense potential that lacks execution.

Image source: http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/OB-YE077_icorru_G_20130712062808.jpg