I used to hate being called a “creative.”
Like I was a rare breed of human that was somehow more interesting than the rest of humanity.
I guess the term excuses my retro/ pirate cum homeless fairy wardrobe, but surely that is just personal taste? Women who carefully curate their elegant wardrobes are rarely referred to as creative even though these same ladies spend hours literally sculpting the raw material of their cheekbones, eyebrows and lips into something completely new.
Or what about people that take pride in how they plate their food or hang photographs on their walls? Surely sportsmen, business people and stay at home moms have a strategy and tools to help them make it through the day?
I think what I am trying to say is: the term creativity is broader than what we allow.
Creativity (noun) the process by which one utilizes creative ability. – Dictionary.com
All human beings have the ability to create, and they do, daily. Anything that didn’t exist before and is now in existence because you put it together was created by you! No individual is exactly like another in every single way. This means that no matter what, you will always have something to contribute to every situation that no one else does. Processes can be improved, fresh perspective introduced, in short, we all have the ability to make things better.
The reason we don’t expand on our creative abilities is very simple actually.
I recently watched a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love. The talk was titled, “Your elusive creative genius.” She shared many insights, but one in particular caught my attention: Gilbert shared about the beginning of her career and how those around her had a fear-based reaction every time they discovered she wanted to become an author.
They would ask things like, “Aren’t you afraid you’re never going to have any success?” “Aren’t you afraid the humiliation of rejection will kill you?” “Aren’t you afraid you’ll work your whole life at this craft and nothing is ever going to come of it and you’re going to die on a scrapheap of broken dreams with your mouth filled with the bitter ash of failure?”
Her short answer to all of the above questions was “yes.” Despite this, she decided that there was no point in fearing the thing you were put on this earth to do, and I completely agree.
Chances are that you have all the tools needed to accomplish the task. Worst case scenario, you try and fail, no biggie, try again. There is one thing that is much worse than fear – regret.
Being creative may appear to be unicorn made of rainbow fluff, but in reality, it is more like a wild stallion that needs to be broken. In order to do that, you need to commit to chasing it down and holding on tight.
True creatives are not elusive, waif-like weirdos. They are visionary, hardworking weirdos. Below are a few practical things that will help you tame the bucking bronco within.
Own your stuff
Find something that you care about and commit to it. Sometimes, as in the case of a copy writer in an agency for example, you will be told what you care about at any given moment. Roll with it.
Try different angles
A great tool for creating something is exploring ways that you have never tried before. Take risks, they really offer the greatest rewards. Good rule: try finding out how things are usually done and go completely in the opposite direction. Or whatever direction you want really, just don’t drag yourself down the same path day in and out. This is creative suicide.
Show up and slog
Gilbert describes herself as a mule. She says her creative process involves showing up and churning the work out systematically. I used to think that nothing interesting could possibly come of this – until I started working at a marketing agency.
On average I write about 3 blogs a week. That’s roughly 12 a month. These average 450 – 700 words, excluding the title and various social media posts to promote said masterpieces. All in all, it can be tedious work and I frequently hit walls, but am slowly learning that they are not houses, and I don’t have to live there forever.
“Creativity about life, in all aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” – Leo Burnett
All circumstances, experiences and those you come into contact with – shape who you are. Especially, for whatever strange reason, the negative experiences. Use these as opportunities to grow and learn. Be present and enjoy the good things. You never know when you will need to draw on them for inspiration.