The Mihir Chronicles

On Creative Mindset

August 09, 2021

Creativity is the most used word around us. But I have struggled to define it. What comes to mind when I think about creativity is constraint. I find them to be synonymous. A constraint can be due to a lack of resources or imaginations. To get past this hurdle, creativity is required.

I have never really thought of myself as a creative, but I tend to gravitate more towards creatives. I remember as a kid—sitting in my bedroom, flipping pages of a children's book, I was drawn towards words, colors and characters. I admired the visual and literary attributes of characters mentioned in those books. Once I was bored with my old books, I would force my mom to buy new books by crying as loud as I could. Throwing tantrums is what we do as kids, right?

Creativity is a combination of discipline and a childlike spirit. — Robert Greene

As time passed, I started painting these characters on the wall next to my bed. My room was super organized; toys laid out symmetrically. I don't know where my creativity came from, but it played a large role during my childhood, and it still continues to play a role in my life today.

Creativity is commonly associated with drawing, singing and writing. But it could be any craft. If the foundation of creativity arises from constraint resources then imagination is pushed wider due to limited resources.

The world you and I live in seems to narrow things down to two polar choices—yes/no, democrats/republic, east/west, and so on. But, creativity has no right or wrong answers. You do not need approval or outside validation. Yes, you need feedback on your work, but your opinion is as important as others. You are the ultimate test of whether what you are saying has strength and validity.

  1. Creativity gives you space to escape the past and the future. It brings you to the present.
  2. Creativity allows you to come up with solutions to problems.
  3. Creativity involves making and building things. And when you make something with your own hands, it will boost your confidence. Creating is playing. Playing is living.
  4. Creativity allows you to enter the flow state[0]—a deep meditation. When you are in flow state, it helps you relax. Creative endeavors give you a sense of peace and calm.
  5. Creativity allows you to share your work with others. It is easy to feel lost or invincible. Creativity helps you be seen.

Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating. — John Cleese

Benefits of creative process

Imitation is the process of learning and educational years are mostly imitative. Many of history's greatest artists found their voice by imitating others. In the age of digital revolution, you are fingertips away from finding great work from others.

  1. Vincent Van Gogh imitated Jean Francois Millet. [1]
  2. Thomas Edison copied Joseph Swan's work. He did not hold the patent for the first light bulb. [2]
  3. Apple did not invent the first desktop computer. It copied Xerox. [3]

Imitate before you shoot for originality. Your uniqueness will start emerging over time once you find your voice.

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you got to know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s going to take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. — Ira Glass

Imposter syndrome

Imposter is more common amongst creatives. It is a psychological occurrence in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. It causes self-doubt and insecurities. The only way to overcome them is to practice and more practice with a right set of daily habits. Little by little, you'll earn your confidence and will let go of your fears of feeling imposter.

The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence. – Charles Bukowsk

Doubt increases with inaction. Clarity reveals itself in momentum. Growth comes from progress. For all these reasons, BEGIN. – Brandon Burchard

I don’t think there’s an artist of any value who doesn’t doubt what they’re doing. – Francis Ford Coppola

The greatest creators train not only in their chosen fields, but in the alchemy of fear. – Jonathan Fields

Schedule daily “white space” in your calendar, where your only task is to think or take a walk and daydream. When you try to generate ideas, shoot for 100 instead of 10. Defer your own judgment and you’ll be surprised at how many ideas you have—and like—by the end of the week. — Reclaim Your Creative Confidence, by Tom Kelley and David Kelley

When we remove ego, we’re left with what is real. What replaces ego is humility, yes—but rock-hard humility and confidence. Whereas ego is artificial, this type of confidence can hold weight. Ego is stolen. Confidence is earned. – Ryan Holiday


Complacency in general disapproves of creativity, but originality is the lifeblood of creativity. Look around you at home, school or work. Complacency is preferred over exploring new ideas. This is often caused due to hierarchical objection from parents, teachers or bosses.

In the digital age, creativity can be misunderstood since consuming and distributing is less challenging. Anyone who is distributing thinks of themselves as creative. Creatives should be careful in understanding this. Originality means going against the grain.

  1. Creativity happens in isolation. The presence of others can inhibit your creative process.
  2. Creativity happens when you go against the face of reason, authority and common sense.
  3. Creativity happens when stitching ideas together from different fields.

Making unusual connections is the basis of creativity. — Ellen Galinsky

Creativity isn’t magic: it happens by applying ordinary tools of thought to existing materials. And the soil from which we grow our creations is something we scorn and misunderstand even though it gives us so much — and that’s… copying. — Kirby Ferguson

The most dramatic results can happen when ideas are combined. By connecting ideas together, creative leaps can be made, producing some of history’s biggest breakthroughs. — Kirby Ferguson

The aim of art is to ask the big questions. — George Saunders.

How are we supposed to be living down here? What were we put here to accomplish? What should we value? What is truth, anyway, and how might we recognize it? — George Saunders.

Through practice, your voice should start to emerge. But to be original, the process of creativity requires to ask courageous questions and challenge the status quo by standing up for your own ideas.

Daily routine

Creativity begs habitual behavior. Why? You often come across people dragging their feet when it comes to working on a task. We are wired to be lazy. For the creative process to flourish, practice daily routine.

Daily routine prevents cognitive load. If you are on an autopilot, you don't have to think twice on how to get started. You simply just get started every day without thinking twice. You have to show up for creativity, you cannot rely on inspiration to show up.

A genius is born in the midst of boring and repetitive tasks.

Also turn off all the noise. You can’t experience the state of “flow” if you’re constantly being interrupted.

To be able to concentrate for a considerable time is essential to difficult achievement. — Bertrand Russell

Breaking the loops

To understand the importance of breaks, we need to understand common loops that cause creative struggle:

  1. Learning infinitely but unable to apply.
  2. Ideating infinitely but unable to create.
  3. Improving infinitely but unable to publish.
  4. Thinking infinitely but unable to take action.
  5. Working infinitely but unable to play.
  6. Comparing infinitely but unable to be inspired.
  7. Collecting advice infinitely but unable to decide.

These infinite loops prevent creativity. Understanding these loops is vital. To break these loops, take frequent breaks.

The only thing that’s going to get you back to work on day two is if you forgive yourself for how bad your work was on day one. — Elizabeth Gilbert

Generating options

  1. Quality comes from quantity.
  2. To get going, start with the easy options.
  3. Create the worst version of your idea. Improve it from there.
  4. Start small. Rather than trying to tackle the whole project at once, which can feel overwhelming, try zooming in to an elemental problem.
  5. If you’re feeling stuck or not seeing paths forward, set a target number of concepts to generate.
  6. A-B-Q method: Create a version of your idea (A). Then do an iteration of that idea, such as by changing one part of it (B). Then come up with a completely different version of the idea (Q). It should bear no resemblance to “A” or “B”. This is a good technique to find new, uncharted territory to explore. A good technique to get unstuck.
  7. Pay attention to when you get into a “flow” and the work just comes, versus when you’re stuck and can’t seem to make progress. Figure out what you can do to get yourself in the right mental state every time you sit down to create.


Creativity is a different way of looking at things, a different way of looking at ourselves. When we are creative, when we are at play, when we really believe in ourselves, we open ourselves to our own experiences. — George Sheehan

Thoughts are “designed” just like everything else around us. — Andrea Zittel

Demands are more oppressive than restrictions. A to-do list is an example of a demand – you become so caught up in the list that you lose the ability to actively prioritize what is most important at any given moment. Restrictions, however, create parameters that limit certain activities in order to allow room for other things that are often hard to find time for (reading, listening to oneself think, crocheting sweaters). In other words, it is better to restrict yourself from doing certain activities than it is to add more things to your to-do list. — Andrea Zittel

Space can’t be “made”, instead it is denoted by boundaries, divisions, walls, compartments, etc. In essence, space is created by the physical boundaries that we build to contain it. — Andrea Zittel

I can’t give my students more time in their lives; but what I try to do is change the way they think about and value it in the first place. My class typically includes students who aren’t art majors, some of whom may never have made art before. I give them the same advice every quarter: Leave yourself twice as much time as you think you need for a project, knowing that half of that may not look like “making” anything at all. There is no Soylent version of thought and reflection — creativity is unpredictable, and it simply takes time. — Jenny Odell

Creativity is contagious. Pass it on. — Albert Einstein

Creativity is paying attention and putting a light on things we might otherwise overlook. — Wendy MacNaughton

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. — Maya Angelou

There is no healthier drug than creativity. ― Nayyirah Waheed

Creativity keeps the world alive, yet, everyday we are asked to be ashamed of honoring it, wanting to live our lives as artists. i’ve carried the shame of being a ‘creative’ since i came to the planet; have been asked to be something different, more, less my whole life. thank spirit, my wisdom is deeper than my shame, and i listened to who i was. i want to say to all the creatives who have been taught to believe who you are is not enough for this world, taught that a life of art will amount to nothing, know that who we are, and what we do is life. when we create, we are creating the world. remember this, and commit. ― Nayyirah Waheed

This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious. — John Cleese

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have. — Steve Jobs

Get off your computer and connect with real life and culture. Life is visceral….Travel as much as you can. It is a humbling and inspiring experience to learn to just how much you don’t know. — John C. Jay.

Ignore everybody. The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you….You don’t know if your idea is any good the moment it’s created. Neither does anybody else. The most you can hope for is a strong gut feeling that it is….And asking close friends never works quite as well as you hope, either. It’s not that they deliberately want to be unhelpful. It’s just that they don’t know your world one millionth as well as you know your world, no matter how hard they try, no matter how hard you try to explain. — Hugh MacLeod

Inherently, to live means being creative. Your life is your biggest design project. — Tina Roth Eisenberg

Further reading