Can I be Creative – The myths that can hold you back

There are so many myths surrounding creativity I sometimes wonder who created them. Was it those that had cracked it and are perceived as the “creative ones”? or was it those that looked on wanting to do the same?

It doesn’t matter anyhow, because THE MYTHS are now firmly in place and we tend to put ourselves in two categories, either I’m creative OR I’m not creative.

So high five out there to any one saying Can I be creative? Questioning those myths and the stereotyping that holds us back opens doors, and the answer is YES, you can definitely, most certainly, undoubtedly be creative. So let’s get on it and put those myths to bed.

Everyone is born Creative!!!!!

I know….. it’s a bold statement, but believe me it’s true. The only thing holding you back is whether you want to be or not. If you don’t that’s fine, but you may want to skip the rest of this post it may not be of any interest.

If you do however, read on because your creativity is there waiting to be unleashed to an unsuspecting world that can only benefit from your innovativity.

When we arrive kicking and screaming in this beautiful world we are inquisitive and alive. Looking around delving into everything.

By 2 years you are pushing things in places they definitely shouldn’t go.( I know because I have a scar to this day across my hand after exploring an electric socket!) and putting things in your mouth that have no right to be there. The point is you don’t know the answers yet, you are finding things out so you have a go. It’s not a matter of being brave You haven’t learned yet to be afraid so you explore. You haven’t learned the Right way so you just do it. It’s from this enquiry that the creativity grows. It’s also as you grow that creativity can be stifled.

Myth 1 – Creativity can’t be killed

Just as we all have it when we are born, we can all lose it as we grow. The fear of being laughed at, getting it wrong, not using it, pushing it to the back, not giving it time and believing it when others say your idea, design, style etc. is no good.

All of these and many more can totally kill your creative spirit and that’s a shame. It can have you believing that you never had it to start with.

Sometimes you just have to be brave and say “it’s O. K if you don’t like it, I think it looks good.”

Try new styles whether it be your clothes, your home furnishings, your art, your hair or what ever else takes your fancy.

Giving yourself the freedom to explore without the restrictions of what every one else is going to say can lead to great creativity.

Be brave and experimental, open the doors to your imagination.

Myth 2 – Creativity happens in the Eureka moment

I’m not saying those moments don’t happen and they are truly fantastic when they do.

The thing is, what tends to be forgotten is what happens leading up to that point. Usually much thought has happened, either consciously or subconsciously.

My break throughs’ usually come like a bolt from the blue in the morning when I first wake up.

Suddenly there is an amazing idea. I just can’t wait to get started on, it’s as if it all happened in a flash, I know I didn’t have it when I wearily crashed out to sleep the night before, but there it is, shining like a little beacon in the morning.

It feels great, but realistically I’ve been mulling it through in my mind.

The idea or solution has formed in my subconscious while I was sleeping, or over a number of days, or even weeks and is ready for me on waking. Don’t you just love it when that happens.

It can also happen when I’ve been pushing through a problem and have just come to the point where the problem has won. It’s defeated me! Yep, there is no where else to go…I’ve had it!!!!!! There is nothing left to do but walk away and get on with something else.

Then the magic happens (not really, but that’s how it feels) I come back with fresh eyes and a renewed fighting spirit (because I don’t like being beaten) and in that first look with fresh eyes I have an answer.

I know how to improve it or resolve it.

That break gives you space to think without focusing on the problem and allows you mind to wander.

Everyone is different some breakthroughs are slow growing and evolve organically with gentle probing.

My point is, creativity is part of a process, what usually appears to have occurred spontaneously actually hasn’t.

Science refers to this process as divergent thinking. Thinking about something else consciously, allows your subconscious mind to carry working without you realising it, which is why it feels like a flash of inspiration.

Myth 3 – Being creative is easy

Maybe this is why there is a misconception that only part of the population is creative. Being creative takes work and not everyone has the desire to work at it. Skills are involved, practical and thinking, and both need practice.

Taking risks and being prepared for failure is also part of it. Then the hardest part, not giving up, being prepared to think and problem solve. When I was a teacher I remember one pupil in particular who I will admire until my dying day.

I still have no idea why he chose art. His skills were poor, in fact very poor, he had no obvious flair and had shown no interest previously.

To say I was surprised when he chose the subject is an understatement, but I promised him, if he put in the work I could help him to develop his creative skills and produce work independently which he would be proud .

Over the next 2 years he worked harder and with more humility and strength than anyone I have had the pleasure to meet.

Each piece of work he submitted, I returned 5,6 or 7 times. Frequently, I felt terrible and wondered if he would just throw the towel in…but no, he didn’t view anything as a failure, but a way to move forward.

We talked about ways to improve or modify his work and techniques he could try.

Each time he accepted the criticism, took the advice, then went away and threw his heart and soul into experimenting and implementing what we had discussed.

By the end of the two years he had surpassed both mine and his own expectations. He achieved his qualification at a much higher level than we had ever dared to believe at the beginning of the process, but for me his greatest achievement was the fact that he went from copying to creating.

 

 

Saying “I’m just not creative” can sometimes be an excuse for “actually, I just didn’t want to put the work in”.

Myth 4 – You can’t teach creativity

If this was the case why would we bother having art and design schools. “Just leave every one to their own devises and creativity will flourish” can sometimes be more detrimental than beneficial.

Yes, it’s true that artists need to have a certain amount of freedom to create but there are definite aspects of creativity which can be taught.

Recently there has been a massive move towards teaching creativity in both schools and universities, with whole modules focused solely on this.

Part of creation is being able to think independently, imaginatively and outside of the box.

Creating mind-maps, collaborating, discussion, setting problems where there is more than one answer are just a few, the list is endless.

It’s all about widening your perspective and considering a variety of approaches and outcomes.

After this comes the learning of skills and techniques.

Once you have put these together it becomes blindingly apparent that creativity can most definitely be taught

My mantra is “but what if“. I get really exited that there may be another way or better way of doing something, ANYTHING.

Myth 5 – Being creative is just about the arts

Heck no. Being creative comes into everything. Creative business gives birth to great ideas and innovative working practice. Creativity in science leads to new break throughs’.

In your everyday life it can help with your time management, money management, you are able to see more possibilities and opportunities it will lead you towards a more positive life with increased energy.

We all do it every day, some just use it more than others.

Myth 6 – Everything has to be original -If not your a thief

That is some next level pressure! If it was true the whole world would be stagnating, nothing would be moving forward because nothing is truly new. We build on what’s already there, trying to improve it, redesign it, create from what’s there, push things a step further.

Artist’s study the artist’s that came before, colours, styles, techniques, messages, what works etc. Then use this to inform their own work, develop their style and working methods.

Real freedom comes from being informed and the acquisition of knowledge.

Myth 7 – You have to be gifted

Of course their are those amazingly gifted people that leave you standing in awe. You know, the ones that no matter how much you work, persevere and aspire to you are never going to reach there achievements. But they are not the majority.

If you are prepared to put the work in and approach things with the right mind set creativity is in all of us.

Myth 8 – You have to be Wacky, Extrovert or unconventional

This one is just crazy. It’s like saying all accountants are boring…..So wrong! It’s stereotyping to the extreme. Life is beautiful and rich because of the wonderful tapestry of personalities that all bring something different to the table.

There are introverts like J.K Rowling, Bill gates and Christine Aguilera. Yes, that’s not a mistake, Christine Aguilera who appears to be so extrovert on stage but in real life admits to being both shy and introvert.

No one can deny that all of these are fabulously creative. So need I say more. Whether you are introvert, extrovert or somewhere in the middle, you have your own unique and valuable ideas to share and enrich the world with.

Myth 9 – Creatives hate structure, order and boundaries.

I can understand why this has become embedded into the Psyche of what is broadly accepted, but that doesn’t make it right.

Total freedom can be overwhelming!

Having set boundaries and a structure can give focus. All that confusing white noise is filtered out. You can stop wasting time. Limitations can in fact increase productivity and creativity and although I love total freedom and the feeling of anything goes, I hate the frustration that comes with too many choices. Experimentation can run wild and I end up never actually achieving anything! So although the idea of no boundaries, order and structure really appeals to me, and many artists, the practically of it drives me crazy, so you’ve guessed it if there are none in place, I go ahead and set my own.

Myth10 – Creatives are Lone Wolves

It’s true that part of the process needs to be done alone, it allows your own expression and vision to form and there is no doubt there are those who prefer total isolation.

“My work is always better when I am alone and follow my own impressions.” – Claude Monet

Over time the image of the solitary artist, working in a loft overlooking Paris has been romanticised.

Thankfully however it’s not realistic. Talking, sharing, discussing and sometimes arguing (in the friendliest of ways of course) expands your ideas and sparks new ones.

This interaction can be invaluable, let’s face it there are very few of us that don’t enjoy interaction with others. The majority of us are social beings, so honestly, why would we suddenly decide that being a creative soul is going to change that.

So what do you think? Can you be creative? Are you creative right now but didn’t even know it? I would love to hear your thoughts.

If you are living a creative life you are constantly learning and moving forward. Life is full of possibilities Here’s to embracing them all……. and loving every moment :).

 

Comments

  1. Mumsy says:

    I always knew your thought patterns were different even as a child well done for following your heart

    1. Su says:

      I couldn’t have done it without you:)

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