We’ve all heard people say it: “I wish I was creative”.
Spoiler alert - this is an excuse.
Being “creative” and being “artistic” are not the same thing - one can create without needing to paint. One can create without even drawing anything visual at all! Creativity is a phenomenon that occurs when something new and valuable is created. Over the years, the definition of creativity has changed dramatically. However, the dominant factors are usually identified as the four Ps” - process, product, person and place.
A focus on process is shown in cognitive approaches that try to describe thought mechanisms and techniques for creative thinking. Theories invoking divergent rather than convergent thinking, or those describing the staging of the creative process are primarily theories of creative process.
A focus on creative product usually appears in attempts to measure creativity and in creative ideas framed as successful memes. The psychometric approach to creativity reveals that it also involves the ability to produce more.
A focus on the nature of the creative person considers more general intellectual habits, such as openness, levels of ideation, autonomy, expertise, exploratory behavior and so on.
A focus on place considers the circumstances in which creativity flourishes, such as degrees of autonomy, access to resources and the nature of gatekeepers. Creative lifestyles are characterized by nonconforming attitudes and behaviors as well as flexibility.
"But I can’t! I’m awful at creating!"
Hush. I’ve read numerous articles over the past few weeks talking about the benefit of being creative - articles encouraging executives to take up painting (for the first time!), articles discussing the benefit of recording your accomplishments somewhere you can reference often, and many more.
One thing about our culture that needs to change is our understanding of a “natural gift”. To emphasize my point, just look at the Wikipedia article for Mozart. And Beethoven. They are described as artists who displayed their talent at early ages. This is emphasized. Unfortunately, I believe this emphasis actually justifies a lot of people’s “well I’m just not creative” attitudes.
For some reason, our culture teaches children to learn and love their “natural gifts”. But we live in a world where you have access to ALL INFORMATION IN THE WORLD and can therefore learn ANYTHING YOU WANT. Do you understand how different this is from Mozart’s time??
So where does this fear seem to come from? Well my friends, I think you may be experiencing for the first time what all creatives have to train themselves to overcome - the realization that creative pieces are subjective. There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” - there are best practices and psychological rules that define something as beautiful or not. It’s easy to go through a slideshow of logo options or songs and mark which ones you like and which ones don’t - I mean it takes seconds right? Welp now you’ve discovered the little man behind the green curtain who makes all those pieces.
So here’s my advice:
- Stop freaking out. Just because your best drawings are stick figures does not justify pouting. Guess what? Everyone draws stick figures at first. You’re a beginner. Embrace that.
- Reward yourself. Welcome to the subjective field my friend. Not everyone is going to like what you do, especially in the beginning, but if you keep your head high and focus on giving yourself praise whenever you can (even things like “man look at me learning a new skill! I’m such a badass” are great).
- Practice. In school, if you study for a test the night before, chances are you’re not going to “know” anything on that text a month later. Learning a skill means constantly practicing and improving. Try to get your hands on your project/skill at least once a week (once a day is best, but if you have days like mine, this doesn’t always happen).
Go learn something today :)