There's a myth that some people are creative and others aren't. This myth is perpetuated everywhere, from the world of art and literature to big business. Marketing departments employ "creatives" to come up with new ideas. Governments rely on "creative consultants" for fresh insights. Yet there's no reason why creativity should be limited to a type or a job description.
Traditionally, creativity is associated with Intuitive personality types - those with a strong "N" preference on the input scale. Yet many actors, designers and other creative people prefer Sensing. They use their perception of reality, and of living in the here and now, to troubleshoot immediate problems or create products that really tap into the Zeitgeist.
As Robert Weisberg pointed out in his book, Creativity: The Myth of Genius, great creativity does not require wild inspiration or dramatic leaps of faith. Rather, it is born from an ordinary thought processes - taking what you know and applying it to different problems and situations. In other words, creativity is a process that every Sensor can follow. Here are some tips.
Be a good student
In 1905, Albert Einstein had what is now called his miracle year. During this remarkably creative period, he developed the theories that catapulted him to the pinnacle of scientific success. Of course, Einstein is widely reported to have been an Intuitive (INTP). But his discoveries were not based on wild intuition. Instead, he focused on topics that were widely discussed in the physics community at the time and utilized equations that his contemporaries were using in their own research.
In other words, it pays to be an avid student of your field. It is essential to know the rules of the game long before you set out to break them. In this respect, creativity displays a strong foundation in Sensing - building a primary understanding based upon the concrete facts before you even start to consider the possibilities.
The world is literally a Sensor's oyster - you have a knack for observing everything. All the information you take in over the course of a day, from people watching to listening to music, can become fodder for creative expression. The trick is to record your observations so you don't lose them.
Don't worry about making sense of the experiences you record. It is more important to be extremely present in the here and now and acutely aware of the things you are observing. This is called mindfulness, and researchers at the University of Amsterdam believe that it is one of the key ingredients of creativity.
Get out of your own head
When a person daydreams, the part of the brain that exercises cognitive control becomes disengaged. Researchers believe that this enables spontaneous idea generation and plays an important role in creativity.
One famous piece of neuroscientific research looked at the brain activity of jazz artists as they played a memorized composition or improvised on a keyboard. MRI scans showed that improvisation was associated with decreased activity in the region involved with executive functions, such as planning and self-control. The findings suggest that when conscious control is dialed down, people can indulge in creative behavior.
In other words, you need to switch off to incubate your big idea. But don't just stare out of the window. Researchers at Stanford University found that people who performed a creativity task came up with 60 percent newer and better ideas when they were walking than they did while sitting. Why? We don't know for sure, but Dr Marily Opezzo, in an interview with The New York Times, speculates that walking, like daydreaming, helps the brain break through its own rationality filter - the tendency to damp down wild, irrelevant details.
It's a myth that creative personalities hide themselves away and emerge days or weeks later with a masterpiece. Most creatives only achieve success through idea-sharing, collaboration and feedback.
Sensors, in particular, need to bounce ideas off a bunch of trusted advisers. That's because they tend to get bogged down with the end goal ("I need to present this sales data in a catchy way") rather than re-examining the problem from a different angle ("What style of report will really resonate with the audience and capture their interest?") Other people can help to re-conceptualize and expand the problem, or break you away from the nitty-gritty detail into something more novel and inspirational.
Persistence is key!
Remember, no matter how smart you are, many of your ideas will be bunkum. There's nothing wrong with that. For every great idea that comes along, there'll be a dozen more that lead you up a blind alley. But prepare well, consult others, and give yourself plenty of space to incubate the idea, and you'll soon be buzzing with creative energy. From there on in, it's a case of practicing your craft to keep yourself creative. You won't look back!