Study Creatively!

I am a firm believer that there is no success without creativity.  Maybe it is just my particular point of view as ‘creative professional’ and student of literature.   I tend to think carefully about the means by which creativity facilitates outcomes and products.  In the BA English, directed by the English Department at Goldsmiths, we have the chance to both study a variety of creative processes and to produce creative materials. For example, the juxtaposition of visual elements and language is an important part of some of our courses; we have the opportunity to study the creative process of remarkable writers, to try our arm in a creative writing course, and to produce our own original essays.

Sometimes it surprises me just how important creativity is to my study process.  This week it was most interesting to read a few professional articles emphasizing the need to embrace and manage the creative process.  Bruce Nussbaum offered some interesting tips on understanding how the creative process can benefit us and how to boost our own creative capacity in one of my favorite resources for inspiration, Fast Company Magazine.  As a ‘creative professional’ my job is to produce original content with very specific goals every day; as a student I scrutinize literature, the product of a creative process.  I noticed that the need to analyze creative output as a student is a big advantage in my professional life just as the requirement to produce creative materials professionally improves my study process.

As Mr Nussbaum rightly points out in his article, ‘4 Ways to Amplify Your Creativity’ there are different phases of the creative process, from inspiration to the final product.  Each phase requires very different skills and benefits from our best efforts and attention.   As he noted, things like actively contemplating how to turn my ideas into an essay, how to best use available resources in the service of my outcome, and how to develop new resources to further my goals is incredibly valuable.

In the creative process we ‘gather, analyze and connect the dots of disparate points of knowledge’, which is also a great description of the process of studying literature or producing our own texts.  As students we often fret over things that are fundamental to our creative output, our exam essays or creative writing course work.  The English ‘VLE’ or Virtual Learning Environment provides opportunities to establish the ‘Creativity Circles,’ and ‘Pivot Circles’ that Mr. Nussbaum suggests we incorporate into our process.  Joining creative social groups helps us to ‘mine our knowledge’ and is one the best ways to boost outcomes. Even though we are in a self-directed program and studying at a distance there are many opportunities for productive creative engagement in the University of London International Programmes. I always learn from my colleagues and deeply appreciate their experience, generosity, and creative approach to study.

Performing a ‘Creativity Audit’ or making a ‘Creativity Map’ also helps put structure around our creative study process.  I like to do this for authors I am studying as well as for myself. While it seems a little dismissive to consider the work of literary giants like Pope, Fielding, or Swift as creative writing considering them as part of a ‘Creativity Circle’ or plotting them on a ‘Creativity Map’ helps me appreciate the skill and experience they must have gained through their creative process.  Appreciating their work in this unique way makes studying more interesting and productive.  It helps me maintain a high level of engagement with the texts I am reading and the essays I am writing. After all, their ‘Scriblerius Club’ is a bit of a creativity circle, which just might validate the idea that creativity is a process we can learn, master, and benefit from. Go ahead, take Mr. Nussbaum’s advice and study creatively. You’ll be working in some very good company!

Caowrites is studying the BA English by distance learning with the University of London International Programmes.

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