“There are three basic factors that help turn creative thinking into a habit: opportunities to engage in it, encouragement to go after such opportunities, and rewards for doing so.”
Calling yourself “creative” is certainly a popular thing to do.
Creativity is – after-all – a much-needed resource.
But when everyone believes they’re creative, the word becomes diluted. Confusion sets in. What does it truly mean to be creative?
Is it enough to be a designer or musician? If I pickup a marker and write some fancy words, will that make more a creative? Is the man who doodles sketches in his notebook during boring meetings more or less creative than the team of engineers who produce revolutionary rechargeable car batteries? Whose to say?
Ultimately being “creative” requires that you produce ideas that are original and valuable, of course. But when nothing is original and when we’re forced to ask: “valuable for who?” calling yourself creative becomes muddy water.
So, is it fair to call yourself a creative if you haven’t invented a new standard for tech production? Can a starving artist who sells only one painting a year (for just a few bucks, nonetheless) still be considered creative? What about the amateur writer without a book deal, or even really a completed chapter, is she creative too?
I’m going to say yes, as long as the thinking is there.
Steve Jobs was right all along: creativity isn’t about revolutionizing the world, it’s about thinking different. If you just so happen to invent something world-changing or create a masterpiece that sells for millions of dollars, that’s just icing on the cake.
But if you have the guts to pursue the path least followed, to ask questions nobody is asking, to daydream and doodle and sing and design like nobody else is, go ahead and call yourself creative. If that’s the case, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Of course you’re creative.
Let people call themselves creative. Why stifle their possibilities by telling them otherwise?— Tanner Christensen (@tannerc) April 16, 2014
Photo by James Victore. Follow him on Instagram.
There’s no guidebook to having ideas…
“I don’t feel very creative.”
Whenever I hear someone say that (or when I catch myself thinking it) I ask the question: what are you working on that allows you to be creative?
If you’re not tackling a creativity-invoking project at work or on the side – or if you’re not attempting to do something out of the ordinary as a hobby or out of sheer tinkering – then you’re not going to feel creative. We call this “routine.”
There’s unfortunately a common confusion between not being creative and not having something to creatively explore.
Not having something that allows you to express yourself creatively is typically what causes us to feel uncreative, even though it’s not true.
The solution to feeling uncreative is straightforward enough: find something new to work on.
It can be anything. Big or small, a project at work or school or a side project. Something for money or fame or simply to scratch a childish itch of wonder.
The old saying from Picasso makes a lot of sense in this context: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
Find something new to work on, something you can really explore, and you’ll discover you had a lot of creative potential wound-up inside of you anyway, you simply didn’t have any way to express it.
Don’t wait for the right project either, start now with your next idea (or a past one).
Your job as a creative worker is to make space around where solutions might be.
Unfortunately we often mistake the role of the creative to be that of someone who finds the answers, who comes up with the ideal solution. Thinking that creativity is solution-driven like this restricts what’s possible.
When we set out to find a solution we miss the opportunity to see all of the other possible solutions that exist just outside where we’re looking. Our focus and intent restricts us.
Instead, the role of creativity is to make elaborate spaces around where solutions or answers might be, then letting the picture we paint show us where the novel solutions lie.
Like putting together a puzzle without knowing what the end result will be. Eventually you’ll start to see the bigger picture. It’s harder to do if you think you already know what the picture looks like, however. You may be wrong. So, instead, you shouldn’t look for answers, but instead explore all of the pieces of the puzzle.
To do this, we have to create vast environments that allow for play, that encourage experimentation, and which empower us to be resourceful.
If you’re a creative individual, your task isn’t to come up with one solution or idea. Stop thinking that it is.
Your focus should be on exploring the world (both literally and figuratively) around the work. Explore, ask questions, poke and prod, tinker, doodle, discuss, and relax.
Working this way makes it easier for the best ideas – the truly original and valuable ones – to appear on their own.
Remember that you’re not looking for an answer, you’re looking for all the pieces.
“You think the perfect book is anything written by anyone else. Your ongoing conversation with yourself is: You’re not enough. So whatever you do will never be enough. Every human being has some flavor of ‘not enough.’ You can either be stopped by it, or simply notice it, like the weather.”
Excellent weekend read on procrastination, feeling overwhelmed, and busyness. I’ll finish the dishes when I’m dead