Creativity is a curious concept. People can be quick to label themselves as a creative or uncreative person. But what does it really mean to be creative? It can be expressed in many different ways: through art, music, photography, writing, engineering, architecture, choreography, performance, film, and so much more.
“I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”
I’ve heard it many times. And I don’t believe you! I consider creativity to be “imaginative problem-solving”. We all have an imagination, right? I sure hope so! Albert Einstein said it best: “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
Here’s another definition. Professor Margaret Boden from the University of Sussex has been researching the science of creativity for more than 30 years and this is what she says about creativity:
“Creativity is a fundamental feature of human intelligence in general. It is grounded in everyday capacities such as the association of ideas, reminding, perception, analogical thinking, searching a structured problem-space, and reflecting self-criticism. It involves not only a cognitive dimension (the generation of new ideas) but also motivation and emotion, and is closely linked to cultural context and personality factors.”
There are certain talents that help us to excel in a particular pursuit — being artistic, musical, co-ordinated, precise, or perceptive — and attitudes — being audacious, innovative, daring, or patient. But I wholeheartedly believe that the key to being an unabashed creator is in doing the thing. Unexpressed creativity has no value!
Do the thing
The formula is simple. Firstly, roll up your sleeves and start the thing. Secondly, follow through with the thing. Until it’s done. Or, until you need help — then ask for help. Lastly, share the thing. If it’s a shareable thing, put it out there into the world with pride.
That wasn’t so bad, was it?
Often we can get caught up at the first step — not knowing where or how to start, thinking there’s not enough time. Or, worst of all, not believing that we are capable, qualified, original, experienced, clever enough. What a travesty!
“Analysis paralysis” can be a hindrance to creativity or learning new skills: Reading every book on the topic first; Googling, Pinteresting, subscribing to magazines; Attending endless courses. Of course, all of this can help, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re actually doing the thing.
Another trap is the paradoxical thought of needing to be good at something before we try it. “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.” Huh?! “I can’t meditate because my mind is so busy”. But this is why we do the practice!
I often hear “I’m not good at drawing”. If you can put pencil to paper and move it around to make shapes, I promise you: You can draw. If you want to draw better, then practise — with patience and regularity.
For some creative pursuits, it’s necessary to research and learn about processes and techniques before you start. But don’t let that hold you back from actually doing the thing itself.
“Be brave enough to be bad at something new” – Jon Acuff
I’m often asked whether I always knew I wanted to write.
The answer is yes — I have always loved the idea of writing a book. However, I’ll admit something. I’d thought that someday I’d like to write children’s books. It wasn’t until I started on my novel that it came to me like an epiphany: That was a self-imposed limitation; a way of keeping my dreams small and manageable. The idea that I would only ever be “good enough” to write stories that had a low reading level, few words, and supported by images. Of course, it’s foolish to think that writing children’s books is “easy” (it’s not). I’m also not going to presume that I’m an exceptional writer of adult fiction. BUT, it’s interesting to look objectively at the ideas and beliefs that could be holding you back from your true potential.
If you don’t try, you’ll never know.
This year saw my first foray into horror story writing (!). To my great surprise, the story I wrote won a flash fiction competition (under 1000 words) by the Australasian Horror Writers Association. It amuses me that I have spent the past year writing a 100,000 word novel, yet the first story I sent out into the world is merely 250 words and in an entirely different genre!
If I hadn’t tried on a whim, I might never have known that I was capable of writing something that others found entertaining.
What lights you up right now?
What are you excited about? Learning a skill, daring to try something new, getting stuck into a creative project, sharing your passion with the world? I’d love to hear from you.
What’s the one thing you’d like to try over the holiday period? If you were unabashed and unafraid, what could you achieve? What’s holding you back from starting the thing?
I dare you to announce your thing.