Posted April 16th, 2014 at 7:00 am by Tanner Christensen
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.
Photo by James Victore. Follow him on Instagram.
There’s no guidebook to having ideas…
Posted April 9th, 2014 at 1:20 pm by Tanner Christensen
Posted April 8th, 2014 at 1:55 pm by Tanner Christensen
“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.
The former is a fallacy anyway, of course you’re creative. Anyone with a healthy mind has the capacity to be creative under the right circumstances.
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).
Posted March 25th, 2014 at 7:00 am by Tanner Christensen
If you’ve never performed a choreographed dance routine in front of 100 people, let me assure you that it can be more than frightening.
Standing up there on stage, the dancer is tasked with showing not only their ability to move, but to prove that they have what it takes to completely dedicate themselves to something they are passionate about. A mistake may very well be an accident, but it could just as easily come across as an indicator that the dancer didn’t prepare hard or long enough.
The tension grows as the audience does as well. From 100 to 1,000 people the cost of a misstep becomes huge. Suddenly there’s a 10 times increase in the number of eyeballs that might potentially see a misstep.
But nobody can make it as a world-class dancer unless they face the fear of performing in front of at least 1,000 sets of eyes.
This is the cost of any creative risk.
A writer who only publishes his or her work in a close-knit circle of friends and acquaintances can’t become world-renown. There’s simply not enough traction in such a small circle of readers to make it happen. Likewise, an artist who is too shy to display his or her work in a large gallery (digitally or physically) will struggle to thrive. The musician who refuses to put her work on SoundCloud because “the comments are too aggressive” is going to have an even harder time performing in front of a real, new audience far away from home. Not always, but more often than not.
Similarly, the inventor who hides his or her invention away for fear that someone will break it is missing the point all together.
To grow creatively we have to push our personal boundaries.
Why? Because creativity doesn’t exist where we already know how the audience will react, or where we know the feedback will be mostly positive and encouraging. Creativity doesn’t exist in the scope we are most comfortable with. It can’t. By definition creativity lies just outside of what we know and are comfortable being around.
To really find our creative potential we have to explore our edges, even if it makes us feel like our ideas or actions are no good, too risky, or ridiculous. We have to be at least somewhat uncertain.
Photo via Flickr.
“If you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”
Steve Jobs, via TIME
Posted March 17th, 2014 at 10:05 am by Tanner Christensen
Everything you do is a chance to do something different.
Posted March 10th, 2014 at 2:38 pm by Tanner Christensen