Monday, 4 January 2016

Think You Don't Have a Creative Bone in Your Body?

In many writing courses and workshops I teach, I give my students creative writing exercises to get them going. Over the years I've heard several variations of the statement, "I don't have a creative bone in my body."
  • I'm not creative.
  • I don't know what to write.
  • My writing is always boring.
  • I don't have any good ideas.
  • I'm no good at this.
  • I can't tell a good story.
Here are some of my responses to those statements:
  • Hogwash.
  • Yes, you do, even if you don't recognize your ideas as worthwhile.
  • I doubt it.
  • That's old thinking.
  • Everybody's creative, even if they don't know it.
  • ...etc., etc. You get the idea.
What might it mean when people say they're not creative? It might mean any number of things. Maybe they were laughed at for some creative effort(s) in the past. Maybe they don't like a particular type of creative activity and don't recognize that not liking something isn't the same as being unable to do it. Perhaps they believe that if they don't excel at an activity, they shouldn't do it at all.

Maybe this sounds like you. Do you think you can't write a story or paint or act or whittle or sing? Do you believe you don't have a creative bone in your body?

Well, consider these ideas:
  • Are you a person who comes up with great party ideas?
  • Do you come out with funny one-liners or puns, or do you tell jokes really well?
  • Can you come up with options or solutions for nagging problems?
  • Do you hum or sing while doing some other activity?
  • Are you good at keeping the beat with songs on the radio?
  • Was there an activity you loved when you were a child?
  • Do you cook well or do carpentry?
  • Do you enjoy a hobby?
  • Can you tell stories to children that they enjoy?
  • Do your neighbours compliment you on your garden or yard?
  • Are you able to find the best arrangement of time or objects in order to get a job done well?
  • Do you find yourself wondering how the writer came up with the idea for a movie or book you like?
  • Is there one time of day when you seem to get a lot of good ideas?
  • Do you like arranging food, flowers, furniture, artwork, or table settings in pleasing ways?
  • Can you fix just about anything that needs fixing?
  • Are you good at solving puzzles?
  • Can you find the best/shortest/most scenic route to a destination?
This is a very short list of examples of creative expression. Maybe this list has given you other ideas about what you do well but never considered as meaning much. That's often the case with people who believe they're not creative.

Keep in mind that being creative simply means "having the power or ability to create...and is...characterized by originality of thought and execution." (Funk & Wagnalls' Canadian College Dictionary). Every single person can create something or come up with an original idea. Really. Creativity is not a special gift doled out only to a select few. It is a natural part of being human.

You are creative, even if you're haven't been given a Nobel Prize for Something or aren't published or famous. You are creative because you're alive and it's in your nature to create.

I encourage you to take a look at your attitudes about your own creative ability or that of someone else you've said isn't creative. What words and feelings go along with that limiting belief?  How can you change your words and thoughts and feelings to allow for a new concept? Do you expect phenomenal results, or can you see that creativity is a process to be enjoyed?

If you like, try the following:

Every day for two weeks, write or say to yourself,
I am creative. I like to __________ (fill in the blank), and this is a creative activity.

It's very possible that your ideas about creativity will shift. Then go ahead, do your creative activity some more. Allow yourself to enjoy it simply because you enjoy it. It doesn't have to measure up to anybody else's idea of "good." If you want to, expand on it, share it. Learn something new.

Creativity is fun and satisfying. I hope you allow yours to blossom. 

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