It's not a talent, it's a skill. Just like any other skill some people can be naturally born with a predisposition; however, most people who are creative practice their skill and need a bit of honing every now and then. It's not some gene that non-creative types just missed out on. You CAN be taught creativity even if you're the exact opposite of the traditional creative mind. People often tell artists - "You're just so creative! I can't even draw stick figures." Although I think these people mean well, they're missing the point. It's very obvious to me when I've been out of practice creatively. I can look at a lineup of my paintings and tell in an instance which one had come after a short hiatus. The shapes are more basic. The colors are less 3 dimensional, the feeling behind it is generally less than I'd like. There's less consistency. Generally when I'm out of practice I'm less daring. I'm nervous to mess up or that I won't be able to make it work the way I'd like. Writers and musicians feel the same, I've read plenty of autobiographies to know that practice is key. Creativity is a skill and the worst thing you can do when trying to foster it is stop. Keep going - even if it's crap. Actually, when it's crap.
It's constantly growing and changing. Typically we're taught to treat any field in the realm of creativity differently than we would other logical or analytical fields, but just like a businessman reads The Wall Street Journal or the latest autobiography by a successful CEO, creatives need to do research and stay updated on the subject. Maybe it's a favorite art blog. For me, it's books. Some of my favorites that have sparked some interesting thoughts about fostering this skill include Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon and Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by David Kelley. The other side to this is what inspires your creativity may change - from year to year or month to month. It might seem a bit tricky. How can you keep your creativity on lock when what worked today might not work tomorrow? Keep learning and experiencing. Go on a trip, pick up a new hobby, get to know people, read a new book, listen to music, go outside, make a movie - there's so many options but you won't know what will work until you find it. For me, it's travel that sparks the most ideas. If I can't actually get somewhere new, I read some of my favorite travel blogs or write about my favorite places. And alternatively, if you're feeling burnt out in a specific area switch to a different one. If I just can't seem to get my creative juices flowing when starting a new painting, I like to pick up my camera to change it up.
It's less about finding inspiration than noting it. Creativity is about ideas and inspiration, but anyone can find inspiration. Everyone sees something they like or find beautiful or something that speaks to them everyday - probably numerous times throughout the day, but here's the difference - creative types actually act on that inspiration. The reason? They note it. In a note on your iPhone or in a small notebook or even in an email draft - but somewhere other than the mind. It's important to point out here that one of the keys for me is to not critique anything at this stage. No throwing away bad ideas, no editing inspiration. Just note it and note it all. The editing can be done later. The real key here is to create a habit of actually noting inspiration when it comes in some physical form so you can go back to it when you need. I have a few ways of keeping my inspiration handy - inspiration stations as I like to call them - an actual notebook I throw in my bag daily before I head out to work or run errands, a larger notebook I keep at home that's strictly for quotes and words, plenty of Pinterest boards for everything from color ideas to artists I like, and a few ever-changing iPhone notes when I can't get to one of the other options. With all these options, I feel like I always have somewhere to start. I often read through my recent notes or additions when I'm working on a new piece or when I'm enjoying my morning coffee as a part of my daily routine. Inspiration isn't hard to find when I make it a habit.