Use the Right Mindset to Free Your Creativity

Are you one of the many people whose mindset is that you are not creative? Your mindset affects the way you see your life, work, friends, and family. It frees you to explore or blocks you from your potential. Use the right mindset to free your creativity.

Against a background of spring green is a black silhouette of a woman with a brain sketched where it should be and the words "Use the right mindset to free your creativity."

What is a Mindset?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines mindset as “1: a mental attitude or inclination 2: a fixed state of mind.”

Many experts discuss mindset in terms of two large categories: Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset.

People with a fixed mindset believe they cannot change their abilities, intelligence, or talents. They see those things as forever fixed. Their primary goal in life becomes to use what they have and to not look stupid or silly.

A growth mindset believe they can maximize their potential. They will try to maximize whatever they are interested in.

More than One

The difficulty of mindset is that most of us aren’t one or the other. We often have a growth mindset in some areas of our lives and a fixed mindset in others. Our mindset might be fluid according to our activity or age or other influences.

For years, I knew I was a creative and had a strong growth mindset in the skills and talents I saw as part of my creativity. But I had the opposite mindset about math. I believed I was not good at mathematics, that I simply couldn’t learn higher math. I had a fixed mindset about mathematics.

Growth and fixed are large umbrella terms for mindset.

Four Specific Mindsets

There are smaller, more specific types of mindsets. I’ll list four here.

Negative

A negative mindset is the attitude that criticizes everything and everyone. Every step will end in failure, no matter what. This is a fixed mindset. One cannot be creative in a negative mindset.

Linear

A linear mindset is just what it says. Then mental attitude or inclination is to think and move linearly. This is a valuable mindset that allows you to break a bigger task down into smaller steps.

Structural

A structural mindset is the inclination to put a framework to an unstructured problem. This mindset doesn’t seek answers outside that framework. But this mindset is also useful. To every creative endeavor, there are structural components that frame the execution of that endeavor. With stories, its beginning, middle, end (plus a lot more). With knitting, it is needle sizes, position of needle and yarn, and number of stitches (at the least). It’s helpful to apply a structural mindset to creative projects. A structural mindset can be limiting if you can’t step away from it to be creative.

Creative

Image is of a small brick building with heavy duty electrical wires coming for it to somewhere off camera. On the building is a colorful sketch of a sunflower and the words "always room to grow."

A creative mindset is a mental attitude or inclination to be creative. Read that again. A mental attitude is the key—not talent or ability. It an attitude that allows you to think, feel, and express creativity in your endeavors.

If you’ve decided you are someone who can bring something into existence—you already have a creative mindset. If you’ve decided you are not creative, you have a fixed idea of what you cannot do. You have a fixed mindset.

Characteristics of a Creative Mindset

According to Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D. some characteristics of a creative mindset are:

  • Believes in One’s Own Creativity
  • Embraces Curiosity
  • Suspends Judgement—Silences the Inner Critic
  • Tolerates Ambiguity
  • Persists Even When Confronted with Skepticism & Rejection
  • Taps Into Childlike Imagination; a Child’s Sense of Wonder

Longtime readers of this blog know I agree with the “taps into childlike imagination.” See my post “Be a Child.” I agree with the other characteristics as well. But, silencing the inner critic and tolerates ambiguity need a brief explanation.

Judgement and the Inner Critic

Being able to suspend judgement and silence the inner critic isn’t a black and white situation. Judgement and inner critics will interrupt or stop a creative mindset. But judgement and inner critics are also a necessary piece of being a creative—at the right time.

Creatives must learn to suspend negative judgement and silence the negative inner critic. Negative mindset holds you back from the act of creation. Ideas must be able to flow freely without interference. It’s okay, in fact, it’s helpful, to make mistakes and improve your methods. Use your growth mindset judgement and inner critic to help you evaluate your creation when you are having difficulty executing your idea or when it’s complete.

Tolerating Ambiguity

What Ms. Gerstein meant to express in the idea of tolerating ambiguity revolves around idea creation. She states tolerating ambiguity is the ability to give way to new ideas, other viewpoints, etc.

I would reword this. Creatives must “tolerate the incubation of ideas.” Most creatives don’t have a complete creative idea pop into their heads. The development of a creative idea often comes over days, weeks, months, and even years. The more practice you have with creative thinking, the more quickly ideas will come. But ideas are often more like a treasure hunt than an instant step-by-step plan.

A Creative Mindset

image of scrabble tiles placed in a square spelling out yes you can.

Your mindset is at least 80% of your success. Some experts put it at 90% or more. Don’t let your mindset be a roadblock. Use the right mindset to free your creativity.

Sixty-Three Years Leading Us to a Star Trek Life

On 1 October 2021, NASA celebrated the agency’s 63rd anniversary of operation. On October 5th two Russians, a film director and an actress, docked with the International Space Station to do a twelve day movie shoot. Are the past sixty-three years leading us to a Star Trek Life?

Photograph of NASA's control room in 19 with eight men crowded around control panels with dials and on off switches. Definitely not close to Star Trek Life.

The Beginning

In the summer of 1950, a two-stage rocket called Bumper 2 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It reached an altitude 250 miles higher than the International Space Station’s altitude. Under the direction of General Electric, Bumper 2 rockets were used to test rocket systems and for upper atmosphere research. It was far from even the dream of a Star Trek Life.

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik I. A basketball-sized satellite, Sputnik I, orbited the earth in 98 minutes.

Caught off-guard by the launch, the United States scrambled to develop similar or superior capabilities. In December, they launched their first satellite, the Vanguard. It exploded shortly after takeoff.

The first successful satellite launch in the U.S. came at the end of January 1958. In July of that year, Congress passed legislation that created NASA.

NASA’s Years

On October 1, 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), began operating with 8,000 employees spread over four facilities. A small office in Washington DC directed operations. The agency also had three major research facilities and two test research sites. They had a 100 million dollar budget.

On October 11, NASA launched Pioneer 1.

Within six months, they unveiled the Mercury astronaut corps. It was 1961 before President John F. Kennedy issued his challenge to have a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Then, on July 20, 1969, NASA’s Apollo Mission and Neil Armstrong made history. Soaring to the moon with less technology than is in our kitchens today.

There have been near misses and tragic sacrifices along the way. NASA’s mission has shrunk and expanded. But their continuing research has given us many spinoffs.

Sixty+ Years Later

Photograph of the sleek and smaller workstations of NASA's control center in 2013. It looks like a slice of Star Trek life.
Date: 07-16-13 Location: Bldg 30 South, FCR-1 Subject: Expedition 36 ISS flight controllers on console during EVA #23 with Chris Cassidy and Luca Parmitano. Photographer: James Blair

In 2020, NASA had 17,373 employees and a budget of more than 22 billion dollars. There are ten major facilities and at least 8 smaller ones.

Besides NASA’s plans to launch projects into space, there are the NASA website. On the website you’ll find the NASA blog, NASA TV, NASA Live, NASA social media, educational sites, and tons and tons of photos and videos. There are apps and podcasts and ebooks and ringtones and so much more.

It’s not just the U.S. And the Russians. And it hasn’t been for years. More and more nations are launching rockets with human and nonhuman payloads. Celebrities and civilians are joining the ranks of the spacefaring.

The International Space Station (ISS) had been operational and continuously occupied for twenty years and 337 days. There are Mars One projects, and Mars rovers, and space telescopes to mention less than a handful of hundreds of projects from countries all over the Earth. Each project may hold discoveries that truly will launch us on our Star Trek Life.

And this has only been a portion of one lifetime of space adventures.

Conclusion

According to Wikipedia’s count, there were more than 200 successful spaceflights during 2020. We don’t have flying cars that can fold into a briefcase yet, so we aren’t ready for the Jetson life, but ISS has fresh chile peppers they’ve grown in orbit. And like a scene out of Star Trek, there’s a movie actress onboard ISS! Space hotels and voyages to Mars are in our near future. We’ve had sixty-three years leading us to a Star Trek life. Are you ready to “Boldy Go” sixty three more years?

Image Credits

Upper photo: Technicians and engineers monitor the countdown for the liftoff of Explorer 1 in the control room of the blockhouse at Space Launch Complex 26 at the Cape Canaveral Missile Annex (now Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.) Photo credit: NASA

Lower photo: (16 July 2013) — Flight directors and spacecraft communicators appear in the foreground of this scene in the space station flight control room of the Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control Center during the July 16 Expedition 36 spacewalk outside the International Space Station of astronauts Chris Cassidy of NASA and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency. From the left are Jerry Jason and David Korth at the FD console and astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough at the CAPCOM console. Issues with Parmitano’s spacesuit brought the spacewalk to an early end. Photo credit: NASA

A Wild and Woolly Third Quarter

It’s been a wild and woolly third quarter. Emotionally and professionally, life challenged me. It was also a three-month period of growth and of promise for the future.

A wild and woolly third quarter represented by the image of a dart board with a yellow dart just outside the inner ring.

If you’re a long time reader of this blog you know that I set Intentions not goals (though that’s mostly semantics). You’ll also recall that I divide my things to do into four buckets: Making, Managing, Marketing, and Home. And I analyze each month and quarter in terms of hits and misses.

Making

In the making or creating bucket, I edited thirty-two chapters of If I Should Die. That includes a baker’s dozen NEW chapters. I made another trip to Subtropolis to refresh sensory details and learned that I’d mistakenly put a does-not-exist cool detail into the manuscript. Then I had to figure out how to take that cool detail out and keep the story intact. And I did. *Smile*

September was the first month I posted three times a week in the past eight months. But my blog posts received a lot of attention and some comments from you all. Your comments are the best part of blogging.

Managing

The managing bucket has been more difficult for me to accomplish during this time. (If you don’t know why, see a grievous loss and new life journey.)

However, this quarter I made improvements to my internet and zoom connections, revised book blurbs, learned more about marketing (one of my goals for this year), and made some connections online and in person.

I read a critiqued a novella and Mars One by Jonathan Maberry. I enjoyed Mars One. The story is one take on the Mars One Mission I’ve mentioned in past blog posts.

There are exciting (for me at least) things afoot. You’ll hear about one of those things in a couple of weeks.

Marketing

I chose not to do any in-person marketing during the third quarter of 2021 for several reasons: emotionally I’m not in a place to socialize much, despite being vaccinated the surge in COVID cases gave me pause, and a planned trip to a conference for writers is coming up in the fourth quarter.

Online marketing is ongoing. I continue to learn more about this formerly foreign-to-me aspect of being an independently published author.

Home

It was an especially wild and woolly third quarter in the “home” bucket of activities and goals. Grief is the biggest influence on my ability to accomplish things. Triggers are many but are of varying intensity instead of always extremely high.

Friends are helping me organize, sell, and give away the tons of supplies and products from my husband’s business. This means I can see a small section of the garage floor again.

Last Year

Comparing this quarter to last year’s third quarter is difficult. This time last year I changed the things I track. Looking back, I can see that it needed to change. The changes create a more accurate glimpse of what I accomplish.

Beyond that, my circumstances have changed so much that it’s difficult to make meaningful comparisons.

What I Learned

I’ve known about and studied resilience for a long time. So it’s not that I learned more about it but I re-learned from an emotional place rather than an intellectual one.

Resilience is more than bouncing back. It’s a combination of giving oneself grace and recognizing one’s strength despite overwhelming emotions. It’s having support systems in place. Knowing when to push through and when to sit with the uncomfortable feelings is also a large part of resilience.

Finally, resilience is unique to each person. Some of us are reeds that bend in the wind and bounce back. Some of us lose weak limbs in the storm but continue to blossom. It will reshape others. Neither our scars nor our differences make us less. We are weathering the fierce storms called life.

Going Forward

For my wild and woolly third quarter and the transition to the fourth quarter this is Image of a long road across a high desert to distant blue mountains with a quote from Julia Cameron "Progress, not perfection, is what we should be asking of ourselves."

While I didn’t finish If I Should Die in September, I am certain I will in October. By the end of this month, I will proofread it and send it out to first readers. By the end of the year, it will go to my editor. Look for publication during the first quarter of 2022.

Opportunities are coming my way that will help me grow and serve my readers better. Sorry, I can’t say more yet.

I am ever grateful for my small group of really wonderful, supportive friends and family.

Redefining my home, my work, my life has created a wild and woolly third quarter. Rearranging of my life and work will continue for a long while. Bending, not breaking, isn’t easy, but I am more like a reed that bends than a tree that breaks in the wind. I grieve, but I am also excited about the future.