Do you think that creativity is for special types of people with all the right stuff, lifestyle and dress sense? Well think again. Creativity is something we can all do in our everyday lives if we approach it with the right attitude and don’t let some old ideas and thinking get in the way. Here’s some creativity myths that are worth exploding.
- It’s all about new and original things. If you think this you’ll be waiting forever for a new idea to pop into your head. Creativity is about using old things (on their own or in combination) in different ways. As Austin Kleon has famously written, ‘Steal Like An Artist’, this is to borrow things that already exist and put them to new uses (it’s not theft if it’s attributed or referenced apparently). For example James Dyson is a famous British designer and inventor who’s redesign of the vacuum cleaner was inspired by a dust extractor he had seen at a saw mill.
- You have to live an arty area. This line of thinking says you need to be in the right district of a major city like New York or London where there are plenty of cafes to hang out. But then there are those who hold that the countryside is required or perhaps constant travel will be the right solution. Which all goes to show there is no right place, you can be creative where you are right now. Indeed searching for the right place may be preventing you from being creative.
- If you’re a male you need a pony tale or if you’re female brightly dyed hair. This will be all part of your ‘creative-type’ image and dress sense. It’s all nonsense, just Google up a famous poet like Sir John Betjeman (1906-1984) you’ll see he was always dressed in a jacket and tie. Don’t worry about trying to get the right image – unless you’re a fashion designer – instead let you’re creativity do the talking.
- You can only be creative in ‘arty subjects’ such as fine art, music, creative writing (that’s mainly fiction and poetry) and photography. Creativity has its place in every aspect of life. You can have creative solutions in IT, teaching, home-making, gardening, car design or even vacuum cleaner manufacturer.
- Careers that are focused on media and marketing are more creative. This thinking derives with the point above because often there’s a bit or writing, photography or film-making involved. The truth is that wherever you can come up with a different way of doing something, be that logistics or dental surgery, then it’s creative if it makes a positive outcome. Often a good source of inspiration is the natural world. For example complexity theory can be a useful model for thinking about change and organization.
- You need a special personality to be creative. This a big one where people write-off all hope of being creative by saying “I’m just not creative”. That’s called a self-limiting belief. There is though one aspect of our personality that can help and that is openness to new ideas (new to us that is). If creativity is really recycling (objects, ideas) in new ways then being receptive and on the look out for something to give a new use to is an attitude to nurture. Simple things can be reading books on new subjects and learning a skill we don’t think we need (why not swap to learning flower arranging instead of more IT skills and vice versa).
- You need the right creative tools. If you think you need the latest MacBook or the highest quality physical materials like Moleskine notebooks then you might just be engaging in yet more distraction from the need to get on with creating with what you’ve already got. Posh notebooks can feel too good to tarnish with our random thoughts and jottings. Just think about what tools Shakespeare and Einstein would have had to hand. As long as the tools are reliable and functional then we shouldn’t pause. Just to prove a point the PC I’m writing this on is at least 7 years old.
- You need chemical stimulation. This is where you believe it is absolutely essential that you have to drink loads of coffee or alcohol or take other prohibited substances in order to be creative. It will be self-fulfilling if that is what you believe but creating any dependency on toxins is hardly sustainable. A walk in some fresh air is likely to much more beneficial.
- An understanding of neuroscience is needed. Really? I’m not sure if neuroscientists fully understand the creative process yet. Whilst we can see with the latest technology which parts of the brain are active during various thought processes knowing this won’t make us more creative. Clearly, we should use the subconscious mind to help develop solutions but what precisely is going on inside our brain cells isn’t important.
Are there any other myths about creativity that could be exploded?
If you enjoyed this post try reading one of the following:
- Learning How to use a notebook creatively
- “Someday you’ll be walking through a woods or across a bridge..,”