This post is for my “non-creative” friends. I’m currently reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and it’s so inspiring! If I had to sum up what I’ve read so far it would be, “get over yourself and go make something.” That’s probably just the message that I need to receive. It’s probably completely different from what others are taking away.
Nonetheless, as I read this book I’m realizing that creativity is so subjective. Not only is it subjective, it also varies with great intensity. So often I’ve been told, “you’re so creative,” followed by “I’m just not that creative.” I have always been flattered by that compliment, yet I’ve also always been taken back by it. I don’t consider myself to be “creative” in the sense that the word is always used, and I’ve never liked how the term separates people, firmly on one side or another – creative or not creative. While flattering, I’ve always felt that this compliment put a divide between me and the one speaking it.
As I read through Gilbert’s thoughts on creativity, I realize that we’re all creative. If you’re shaking your head in dismissal, keep reading. The thing about creativity is, it’s not some God-given right of passage that a lucky few are bequeathed. Instead, I think it’s a learned skill and a mindset. Bear with me here.
Sometimes we tend to group people into categories based on our limited information. However, I don’t think we can label someone as creative or not creative. Instead, I think creativity is about trying something. It’s about making something. And most importantly, it doesn’t matter if it’s “good” or “bad.” You see, sometimes we determine someone’s talents based upon how the masses react to their work. That’s insanely incorrect. Our job – all of us – is to create things based on our abilities and put it out there in the world. Some things will be revered by many and some will go unnoticed. The level of fame achieved by our work is not what determines its importance.
Furthermore, creativity isn’t just making world-renowned paintings. It’s not sewing a perfect stitch or designing a beautiful room. Instead, creativity is about making shit happen. All sorts of shit, actually. We mistakenly assume that creativity lies solely in the arts, and therefore if we aren’t master painters, then in turn we’re not creative. I must call bullshit here. Someone’s creativity might be communicated through painting. Yours might be in how you parent. It might be in how you dress. It might be in how you prepare tasty, low calorie desserts. It might be in how you rigged that shower head to not whistle anymore under pressure. Creativity can be anything! It’s a lifestyle and it’s something we all have access to.
On the flip side, I don’t think that we all exemplify creativity in our daily lives. For those of us who attempt artistic tasks, our creativity is a little more noticeable. However, just like any other skill, creativity must be practiced. We must train our minds to pay attention to our creative ideas and most importantly, we must continue to practice when our first creative attempts are a flop. Not everything we do will develop as we saw it in our heads. Not everything will cause you to walk away proudly. The trick here is to keep using your creativity anyway. Statistics say that you have to get it right eventually! The more we practice, the better we’ll become.
For me personally, my creativity is less about making wonderful works of art and more about just doing things. I just put words on paper (or a screen, rather). I sometimes throw paint on a canvas or draw things. More importantly though, I stack things together until they make sense to me. I just do things. I figure out ways to make things happen. If I need to reach a top shelf, I find some stuff to stand on. If I need to get 12 things done when there’s only time for 8, I find a way to make the remaining 4 things happen. I am proud to say that my creativity is less about my artistic endeavors and more about how I live my daily life. Creativity is not a room in which we can put the painters and crafters and designers. Creativity is a way of living life. It’s a way to make magical things happen, both on a legit canvas and the figurative canvas of life. It’s not reserved for the select few. It’s for all of us to use as we will. It’s not something that often happens magically though. It’s a learned skill, a way of life if you will. And it’s up to you whether you want to tap into your well of creativity or not.
Today, I’m waging a war against “creativity” as we know it. I forge this war in hopes that everyone will realize that there’s creativity of some sort within all of us. It may not be technically artistic, yet there’s a way in which we can all lead creative lives.
Go forth and do something creative! It could be as simple as sprinkling a new spice in your casserole or mixing a color/pattern that you haven’t tried before. I’m not asking you to rival Picasso; I’m just encouraging you to do something simple to tap into your creative ability.