Reconnecting with creativity



Do you remember what it was like to be a kid? We didn’t have the answers to everything so we needed to figure it out. Not knowing what the ‘right thing’ was never limited how we experienced and understood the world.

Earlier in the year, I decided to ‘be a kid’ and play in a trampoline playground that was set up for the Sydney Festival. It was 9am and the decision was spontaneous. I was the first one there and I started jumping. Timidly at first, then with more spring and hang time. After two minutes I thought I had got the most out of the playground, I got bored and shared a photo on Facebook. But then some young kids trickled in. They raced across trampolines, they crossed their legs in the air and bounced with their legs tucked in, or lay flat on their backs. They flipped in the air and shook the trampolines while I watched in the corner and tried to stay on my feet. I thought to myself ‘Wow. I used to do that stuff.

I went to The Creativity Workshop in New York to learn how to bring creativity into my life. I came to realise creativity isn’t something that only ‘creative’ people have. It’s inside of each of us, but we just bully it so much and don’t let it come out for many reasons like ‘this won’t work’ or ‘that’s lame, don’t say that’… We are too concerned with doing things the ‘right way’ that we miss the opportunities to practice being creative. It’s so easy to default to ‘that’s how we do things here’ or ‘I’ve done that before, I know how to do it’. This stance automatically limits our ability to be playful and discover new ways of doing and being everyday – it limits our creativity.

Throughout the workshop, I reconnected with my creativity. I learned that creative ideas are shaped by the unique experiences we have as individuals throughout our lives – our impulses, gut instincts and how we think are one-of-a-kind and valid. I learnt to have confidence in my own perspective, and to externalise those seemingly ridiculous ideas before throwing them away. I believe creativity has a role to play in the way we solve problems, and I now associate creativity with being able to take risks and make leaps that may not make sense for others. I am learning that for creativity to thrive in me, I need to consciously separate it from any form of judgment and critique.


This post is the first of a couple of posts about my experience at The Creativity Workshop. Next time, I’ll share some techniques I learnt at the workshop and describe how I’ve began to use them in my own world.



  • Daniel Szuc

    October 17, 2014 at 7:00 pm Reply

    Sensitivity or managing it can play into being a creative.

    Is there a way to better manage the review of work whilst connecting back to the sense of flow that creativity seems to enable?

    • Dominique Gagarin

      November 7, 2014 at 12:40 pm Reply

      Hey Dan, great discussion to put out there. You’ve definitely sparked my thinking.

      I don’t know if I have an answer to your question, but here’s where your question took me. I think creativity and critique are inherently distinct because the former is almost defined to be without judgement and critique. Removing this skepticism lets me take that risk and just play to learn, discover and create. My personal view of the ‘flow of creativity’ is like an uninhibited, ‘open the floodgates’-type flow.

      To try and connect this sense of flow into the review of work could be possible if you explicitly design the environment for that flow to happen. But I think that the flow within the process of creativity is different from the flow you would have when reviewing work, and for me, that’s necessary.

      Let me give you an example. When I’m in a situation where a review, critique or judgement needs to be passed on anything, that flow just isn’t there. The ‘gates’ that block any type of flow could be political, personal, cultural… and that can really limit the success of the work. I’m consciously screening what I’m saying – is it the right thing to say? Is that the right way to say it? should I even say it? At the end of a review, what needs to be said just isn’t, and the team goes away thinking the thing they’ve created is a perfect version of whatever it is.

      However, other ‘gates’ to the flow in the review of work can be more critical and rationalised – what do they want critique on? What am I reacting to and why? is what I’m saying productive or counter-productive? – These questions are absolutely necessary when reviewing work, otherwise the feedback might not even be useful. I think that when it comes to a review of work, the flow can still be there, but it’s much more like a pulsing flow rather than a river-type flow.

      All of that said, I think you can create an environment that has a pulsing flow – where participants are confident to voice their opinions and critiques of a piece of work.

      If you begin any review session by explicitly framing what your team wants critique on and how the critique should be delivered (start with a good thing, then something to improve on AND WHY), there’s definitely a better flow and the session is more productive. We did a design critique activity one Friday at Meld where we were explicitly taught how to do a design critique and then we practiced it. The environment that was created in the activity was safe and there was a structure around it. The team asking for the critique practiced how to get what they wanted from the review of their work, and the participants practiced how to give critique so that the team could act on the feedback that they were given. The team asking for a critique and the the participants giving the critique understood how to get the most of the activity, so there was a flow to the discussions and review of the work.

  • Shelley Berc

    November 6, 2014 at 1:38 am Reply

    I am so happy that our workshop helped you reconnect with your creativity and imagination. The practice of ongoing techniques to keep these valuable human attributes alive and flourishing is one of the goals of what we are conveying. Creativity is a muscle that must be used repetitively to thrive. But only 15 minutes a day of using it will be enough to keep our creativity growing stronger and integrated into our lives.

    • Dominique Gagarin

      November 7, 2014 at 12:42 pm Reply

      Shelley, thanks for taking the time to read this post! My experience in your workshop has definitely had a lasting impression that is constantly escaping me in different ways as the weeks roll on. Sharing my experience has also helped others around me in therapeutic and professional ways.

      Hope to see you in Sydney soon!

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