For a variety of reasons lately I have been thinking about the concept of creativity. Quite a wide range of great thinkers all describe creativity as a process based on discovery. In other words, creativity is not creating but rather discovering something new. We all have perceptions and experiences which when put through an appropriate process foster the discoveries that produce the new ideas--creativity. Such luminaries as Plato, Cezanne, Van Gogh and Einstein, to name a few, all share this view of creativity as a process of discovery.
The question that you should now be asking yourself is "What prompts the discovery process?". The simple answer is curiosity--the most natural instinct of all and shared by all of us from a very young age. So if your schooling did not kill off your curiosity you are well on the road to being creative. (I will avoid the temptation to turn this post into another article on education.)
The other key ingredient for creativity is the process one uses to analyze their perceptions and experiences. Here again many genius level thinkers (Einstein, Hamming, Minsky to name a few) provide the answer. One can learn the process, especially by studying the great thinkers. Alternatively, or perhaps in parallel, one could develop the ability to think critically. Critical thinking is the foundation for creativity. Critical thinking is defined here in this article on training young entrepreneurs. (If you have read this far then the critical thinking process is probably/hopefully engaged.)
In a post on Brain Pickings today there is an interesting article on creativity--Chuck Close on Creativity, Work Ethic, and Problem-Solving vs. Problem-Creating. The best quote from the renown photorealist is:
“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”
The other good quote from Close is:
"And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you did today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere."
Suffice it to say that Close recognizes the critical role that processing plays in creativity. And....no more excuses about waiting for inspiration.