I hear that way too often and every time I do, it makes me sad. Usually it’s in the context of a conversation about someone’s creative output – my writing or someone else’s artwork, etc. Then the other person in the conversation says, “I’m not creative.”
Okay, this is totally just my opinion – I’ve got nothing to back it up – but I believe everyone has the capacity and the capability to be creative; it just shows up in different ways. Some write, some draw, some come up with solutions no one else would ever think of.
For example, when a certain friend told me that she’s not creative, I argued and pointed up as an example how she manages her children, particularly her older one, a toddler. My friend is clever (creative) in working with her child’s personality while getting her going in the right direction. It would be easy for her to fall back on the do-it-‘cuz-I-said-so method of parenting, but instead, she looks for ways to encourage her children’s good behavior, discourage their bad traits, and help them to grow. That’s a sign not only of a good parent, but of a creative one as well.
In a TED video, David Kelley talks about how a child’s creativity often gets shut down by someone telling them that what they’re doing isn’t “right,” or telling them that they aren’t creative. I think it also can happen when a child’s creativity goes unnoticed and/or unremarked by the adult figures in his/her life. It almost happened to me in high school when my art teacher decided to show me how to make my still life “better” by drawing ink lines on it herself. The end result? Nearly all the students had the exact same still life except for the one or two she favored and let do whatever they wanted. For her, it wasn’t about us creating art or expressing ourselves; it was about doing it right. She meant well but I definitely feel she was misguided. Fortunately, the experience made me angry, not dispirited.
There were other times in my life when I’ve thought – or been unintentionally encouraged to think – that you can only be creative in one discipline, if any at all: like it was ok for me to write but not dance; or that certain other people draw so that’s not your thing. It’s only now that I can let myself express myself how I want, when I want. Mostly. I still hesitate occasionally, but I’ve recently taken up sketching again, even if I only doodle or sketch once every month or two, and I know when the time’s right, I’ll pursue photography again, and I get pleasure out of thinking up attractive ways to decorate my apartment on a dime…
My hope is that people will come to see the creativity inside themselves and others and not try to limit someone by telling them that what they’re creating doesn’t look “right” or that they can’t do something – can’t practice creativity for whatever reason. I think it would make such a difference…
I did do a little bit of new writing today: 275 words, but that’s it so good night, all!