Creativity is innate.
Some of us, some lucky few, are chosen by whatever gods may be to be the storytellers, the artists, the performers… and those few are born with the talent and creativity that will last the rest of their lives. And they won’t have to work at it nearly as hard as the rest of us, and they’ll infuriate the rest of us while we silently bash our heads against the glass ceiling we’ll never crash through. We are born with creativity as much as we’re born with the bones in our bodies.
Well… that may be a little bit true. Just like some of us are born taller or cleverer or more musically inclined, there is probably something to the supposition that creativity is innate, that it’s luck of the draw, and that some people have an easier road to walk in creative endeavors. But you can’t change your bones, you can’t change the fact that you’re colorblind, you can’t change a sweet tooth. You can, however, change your creativity.
Creativity is a muscle, not a bone. It strengthens and tightens with use, atrophies and withers when neglected. Lots of creative types don’t bother creating because they aren’t properly motivated to do so. And, of course, lots of people who aren’t naturally creative become very creative indeed by virtue of the fact that they went out and created anyway, cultivating creative muscle through sheer force of will and sheer tenacity of repetition.
Here’s the thing: just like virtually anything in life, creativity is there for the taking if you’re willing to work at it. Creative genetics are great if you’ve got them, but if you don’t, you’re not blacklisted from the club. We have a saying in coaching: hard work beats talent when talent won’t work hard. So many people sit back and say I wish I could write stories, or I’d love to write a screenplay, or I’m going to write a song one day, but then they just sit back and wait for that day to roll around. Naturally creative types do the same thing, of course; they take for granted their ability to put stories together or craft brilliant sentences or whatever, and they don’t practice their craft — or worse, they just don’t follow through and never finish anything. So, if you can finish what you start, and you have a desire to be creative, you just have to jump in and do it.
You may be crap when you start out. But who picks up a guitar and immediately starts cranking out “Freebird”? Who picks up a paintbrush and tosses off a Van Gogh at one pass? Remember, if you’re trying, and if you’re being consistent and finishing what you start, you are ahead of the vast majority of people out there, because most people will never bother undertaking a creative endeavor in their life. They’ll sit back and consume and read and watch and dream, but they won’t work for it. They could have all the creative bones in the world making up their skeleton, but they won’t take the time to cultivate the muscle needed to make the machine work.
So the next time somebody tells you that you’re not creative enough — even if that somebody is you — remember that you don’t have to be born creative. You can become creative.
If it matters to you.
This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday.