I doubt if he even remembers the conversation. On a warm Georgia evening, chatting in front of our college dorm, my friend Matt, made the best statement I’ve heard on creativity. As was our custom, we were pontificating people’s ability to remake themselves. He told me, “Mike, you’re NOT a very creative person but if you wanted to be, you could be.”
He was right. I was the most vanilla, unexposed person I knew.
I’ve heard seemingly non – creative people assert that they weren’t born creative. The belief sounds like this: A few souls are born with this ability and the rest of us live in a world of rules, outlines, and protocols. A few years ago, I would have told you the same thing. Be it nature or nurture, I tend to operate from a left brained framework. I believed everything has a process, a checklist, and a method for implementing. Creative work was done by those who were ‘born with it.’
Today, I now consider myself one of those creatives. I do not paint, draw, or dance. Nor do I wear skinny jeans. (Not hatin’, just can’t do it.)
I’ve sought out the “process” (there’s my left brain working) of creativity. Now, I can start with nothing and create ideas and plans that are woven into being.
Here are two things that have worked for me to cultivate creativity:
- Reading books about creatives. If you’ve read much of my blog, you’d know I make reading a top priority. Once you understand that resistance is constantly keeping you from doing creative work, you can battle it. This is where Steven Pressfield’s, ‘The War of Art‘ comes in handy. Then, once you’ve committed to doing creative work, Julia Cameron’s,’The Artist’s Way’, contains many exercises to beat past writer’s block and prime your mind. I personally believe ‘On Writing‘ by Stephen King is mandatory reading for any aspiring creative. Finally, the most recent work I’ve read on the subject is by writer, Jeff Goins. His new book, ‘Real Artists Don’t Starve’ contains many practical examples of artist’s succeeding that is sure to give you a new breath of inspiration.
- Asking Questions. All creativity is predicated upon the belief that if you believe there is an answer, you will find it. When I’m stuck, I ask three people questions.
- Others. Someone else may always have the answer I’m looking for.
- Myself. It’s amazing whats dislodged from your subconscious when you challenge it.
- God. If you have access to infinite wisdom, use it.
This journey from outside the college dorm to committing a great deal of my personal time to writing and fostering new ideas took several years. Those of us not naturally “right-brained,” will have to dedicate much commitment. But, it doesn’t have to be a long process.
Stephen King says in, ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft;’ “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
The point is, creatives don’t have abilities granted to them by an external force. It takes continual work to perfect. Creativity is something we are all capable of if we try.
As Matt told me, “If you want to be, you can.”
Question: What makes you creative?