Thursday, 3 October 2013

Can You Teach Creativity? - Heather Dyer

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I’m teaching an eight-week course at the moment called Developing Creativity. I’m a little apprehensive since I have yet to find out if the exercises I am planning will really demonstrate the theories I want to share. But I’m looking forward to hearing feedback from my students.

I’m structuring the eight 2 ½ hour sessions around principles of Eastern philosophy. There will be some writing exercises, and some ‘creativity’ games – but this is a course for people who want to be creative in any discipline, not just writing. So this has forced me to look into the heart of the matter and not to just teach writing technique – which, although perfectly useful and necessary, is not about creativity.

I tried out a couple of the exercises on a friend, who said, “this sounds more like a self-help course, not a creativity course.” And in a way she’s right. It was Abraham Maslow who said:

“My feeling is that the concept of creativeness and the concept of the healthy, self- actualizing, fully human person seem to be coming closer and closer together and may perhaps turn out to be the same thing.”

I’m planning the eight week sessions as follows:
  1. Not knowing – ‘beginner’s mind’.
  2. Close attention to detail and the present moment.
  3. Not judging.
  4. Authenticity and acting on your intuition.
  5. Letting go – being open to outcome, not attached to outcome.
  6. Passion and compassion – following your bliss.
  7. Discipline without desire.
  8. The ego – keeping it out of the way. 
I wonder if anyone else has found this link between creativity and 'zen' practice helpful? Have you read any good books about it? If so, I'd love to hear about them. 

I’ll let you know how I get on in my next post…




Sue Purkiss said...

This sounds very intriguing - good luck, and do let us know how it goes!

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Sounds a fascinating Heather. As an art teacher as well as a writer I think its not so much teaching creativity but allowing yourself to run with gut feelings...Maslow's point.

I liked your list. "no 5 Letting go – being open to outcome, not attached to outcome." I think we've all come across teachers who want us to hold sessions and have an end result in mind before we've even done the session. Like I want the class to have written a play by the end of your session and to produce it in front of the parents immediately afterwards! (I've had that!)

The ego one is tricky too...! great post! Good luck!

Joan Lennon said...

Lots of wise stuff in there - thanks!

Richard said...

I think it is probably certain that there is a massive link between Zen and Creativity. As Robert Persig says, the quality without a name is the cutting edge between past and future. In fiction writing, that is precisely where the author is sitting.

There are a couple of books that might help Sciencey types get the hang of Zen:
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance -- Robert Persig
Timeless Way Of Building -- Christopher Alexander
The latter is expensive and difficult to find, but is browsable on Google books, so you can decide if you want it.

Heather Dyer said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone, and the book recommendations. h

Richard said...

I've just posted this on FB for National Poetry Day, but the talk in the middle is apropos here.

Penny Dolan said...

Yes please, do let us know, Heather! Sounds a very interesting course.

There's a book by writing coach Bekki Hill that's quite good, For example, she asks the reader to look at their core values. The word "success" appears in the title, but don't let that put you off. It's not a sell-a-mega-titles book at all.

There's always the Julia Cameron oeuvre. (Have always wanted to use that word!!!) She now has a book out about something like "Raising the Creative Child". An interesting angle.

Heather Dyer said...

Thanks Penny - yes Julia's books are great, I will look up the other one. Thanks.

Andrew said...

Looks very interesting. Would part of each session be meditation.?

Heather Dyer said...

Andrew, I was thinking about that. Maybe 5 minutes at the beginning. I wonder if you have done this in class yourself and how you introduced it? Thanks for the suggestion. h

rebecca said...

Thanks for this Heather. I wish I could come on the course, it sounds revolutionary! x