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.

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