I’m sure you’ve heard people say they aren’t creative. “I’m not creative, I don’t paint.” There are even people who say they were creative as children but now they’re adults and “don’t play make-believe anymore.” Or they’re only creative when “inspiration hits” and they can’t duplicate it. Do you agree with them? Are you ready to throw in the towel and give up any hope of creative inspiration? Then STOP it! Here are some popular creativity myths and how to destroy them.
Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.Mary Lou Cook
I can Only be Creative When Inspiration Strikes
“I’m waiting for inspiration to strike,” said every procrastinating artist, writer, inventor, etc. It’s as if someone is waiting for a “divine” smack to the head and all of a sudden a bestselling book pops out. Or that million-dollar painting.
It doesn’t work that way. Inspiration is like making a turkey with a pop-out timer. You clean it, season it, and you even baste it. When it all comes together at the right temperature…out pops the timer. Or in your case, creativity strikes. You can’t actually make it all come together without feeding it and being ready at the right time.
But you know what you’re doing while you’re waiting for the turkey to be ready? Making side dishes, stuffing, and desserts. You haven’t stopped working while waiting for the timer. Dinner would be ruined if you didn’t make the other things while the turkey was cooking.
This is how creativity works. You have an idea for a project, but you don’t quite know how you want it to read or look. You research the information you might need, or you buy the paints, or you get the parts, or whatever else you’re going to need. Then you might work on some preliminary drawings, or flesh out some characters, or get a focus group to provide feedback on your idea. Maybe you even create a proposal or presentation for your boss.
That is all the seasoning and the side-dishes. You’re working on your projecting by priming and prepping your tool chest and doing all the preliminary work that is needed, including creating side-work, so that you’ll be prepared for that creative lightning strike. That divine spark.
I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.W. Somerset Maugham
Only Artists and Writers are Creative
I call bullshit. Everyone is creative. But most people have forgotten how or don’t even realize they’re being creative. Sure it’s easy to look at a painting and be awed by the artist’s creativity. Or read a book and feel like you’re transported into it by the writer’s creative world. But do you ever look at the work you do every day and think that you’re being creative?
Did you ever wonder about the creativity of inventors like Alexander Graham Bell, or Benjamin Franklin, or the creator of basketball James Naismith? They were not artists or musicians or writers (ok, Ben was a writer, he was also famous for inventing the lightning rod, bifocal glasses, and the Franklin Stove, among other things.) But they were able to see a need and create something new to fill that need. That’s creativity.
The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.Dictionary.com
You’re being creative anytime you come up with a unique solution. Ever need to hammer in a nail but didn’t have a hammer? Did that stop you or did you find a rock or some other tool that would do the same job? You’re being creative at work anytime you find a unique solution to fix a problem.
Ever go outside the box to solve a customer’s problem? That’s creativity at work. Ever design a pretty spreadsheet because ugly ones are boring to look at? That’s creativity at work.
Only Right -Brained People are Creative
This myth kind of goes hand in hand with the above one. Did you ever believe this one? Do you believe it right now? Shame on you. If the telescope wasn’t invented, how would we have learned about the heavens? How about space travel? If the first plane wasn’t invented, then how would we get to a jet or a rocket? Creativity inspired these inventors to design and make something that didn’t exist before.
If you don’t believe that an engineer can be creative then I challenge you to watch Apollo 13. During the crisis, NASA engineers had to figure out how to remove the dangerous levels of co2 in the Lunar module using the canisters that were designed for the command module. It was a square peg into a round hole moment and the NASA engineers could only use equipment that the astronauts had with them in the Lunar module. That scene plays out with all the intensity the life or death moment deserves. And it shows how creative these engineers, these left-brained, scientific thinkers can be.
Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.John Dewey
I Can’t be Creative Until…
I can’t be creative until the kids are grown…I have more money…I have an office…I have more time…
Do you hear that? It’s my bullshit meter going off again. There truly is no perfect place or time to create. People have written or painted or invented, etc. while in the most perfect settings and the worst.
Van Gogh painted Irises while living in the Saint-Rémy Asylum. Steven King wrote his first book on a make-shift desk located between a washer and a dryer. J.K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book in cafes while she was a single mother living on welfare. And NASA engineers were in a small room with only the tools found in a lunar module.
What you might consider a perfect setting, someone else might consider the worst. The idea of writing in a cafe with all that noise makes me shudder. But put me in a quiet corner? Love it.
There is no perfect time for creativity either. Under pressure. With no pressure. Both times are right. At 5:00 in the morning or 8:00 at night. It’s what works best for you and your situation. Can you only find 15 minutes a day to work on your project? Well, that’s 1.75 hours more per week than if you didn’t work on it at all.
When you find yourself saying I can’t be creative until…then ask yourself why. And keep asking why until you realize that it is just an excuse and not a truth.
Great things are not done by impulse, but a series of small things brought together.Vincent Van Gogh
What other myths about creativity do you know about? What ones did you use to believe and how did you get around it?