Being in a creative profession, I live, eat, sleep, breathe and dream creativity. It’s my job to be a master of my craft. I’ve spent 20+ years working on this – and every day I learn something new. That’s what I love about this journey that I’ve chosen to pursue. Along the way, I’ve had the opportunity to meet interesting, creative, smart, cool people – and every one of them has a story. One refrain that I hear a lot is, “I’m not creative at all! How do you do what you do, especially in a short timeframe?”
I want to dispel any misconceptions right here, right now: creativity is a gift that we all have. It just looks different in everyone. I happen to make a living with my creativity, so I’ve dedicated a lot of my energy and time to understanding it. Creativity is a muscle that needs to be developed, trained and used. But the important thing to know is that we all have this muscle. Whenever someone tells me they are not creative, it makes me want to grab them by the shoulders, shake them and say, OH YES YOU ARE! 🙂
So if you’ve ever thought that you are not creative at all or wish to add more creativity in your life, here are 7 tips that have worked for me – and I hope they work for you, too.
Over the years, I’ve heard countless people tell me that they are not creative. This always surprises and amuses me. What I’ve found is that this phrase is often used for other purposes. For example:
As a disclaimer: “I’m not creative, okay, but here’s my idea…”.
To soften a request: “I think we should use my headline instead of yours. I mean, I’m not creative, but I think it works better.”
To avoid work: “I can’t help you with this. I’m not creative.”
To sum up a vague objection: “I don’t like the bird graphic/the color purple/this story…but well, maybe it’s because I’m not creative.”
As a sarcastic jibe: “Yes, I saw your artwork/design/story. I’m not creative though, so maybe that’s why I don’t get it/like it/care.
To mask anxiety: “I’m a logistical person. I’m not creative. What do I know?”
So what does “being creative” really mean? Everyone is creative. But “to be creative” means different things to different people. At its heart, creativity is about:
Curiosity: you want to know about people, places and things
Risk: you are willing to take a chance on things and ideas that are important to you; that includes speaking up and taking action when it matters
Reflection: thinking feeds ideas which feeds creativity
Patience: sometimes you have to wait for ideas to come and trust that they will come
Listening: sharing ideas requires a willingness to hear what someone else has to say without judgment
Passion: passion fuels inspiration which fuels creativity
Notice how I didn’t mention anything related to writing, artwork, painting, sculpture, design…all of those activities that are typically labeled as “creative.” Just because I’m a writer does that make me any more creative than a software developer who creates a cool app? Or a scientist who makes a major breakthrough in cancer research? Or a mom who finds a way to get her kids in the car without tantrums?
Exactly. Creativity is not something you either have or don’t have. We are all creative. Take a look at your own work and life and see all the ways, big and small, that you are creative. Use the six qualities above as a check list. You might be surprised at how creative you really are.