Myth Busting: "I'm Not a Creative Person"

Sometimes people will tell me, "I'm not a creative person."

I'm gonna call B.S..

I'm not gonna deny that some people may be more compelled to write or paint or weave baskets underwater. But I don't believe any single person is not creative. The definition of creative is "relating or involving the imagination." So unless you have aphantasia, a really super duper rare condition in which you don't have a "mind's eye," you were born with an imagination. 

Here's what I know: we're creatures, you and I. We are part of a world, of a universe that is seemingly infinite in creativity. (I mean, narwhals? WTF?) 

Here's what I believe: as creatures of this bizarrely creative universe, we are inherently creative.

Being a "creative person" is not necessarily a matter of whether or not you "are" creative. Rather, it's a matter of identifying--and celebrating--how your innate creativity expresses itself.

If you're a teacher, you're creating syllabi and lesson plans. If you're an engineer, you're creating world wonders like the squatty potty. If you're a climber, you're creating movement that flows with the rock. 

When people say they're not a creative person, I imagine they're picturing an artist or writer in her bedroom, half naked, delirious with lack of sleep as the Muses continue to blow their trumpets and stroke their harp strings. Sadly, this isn't the case 95 percent of the time.

Half naked--maybe, if yoga pants are truly as revealing as contended. More often than not the Muses are on coffee break, sipping nonfat lattes and complaining about their daddy issues. Meanwhile, the "naturally gifted" creative person chisels away at the vision. One word, one paint stroke, one weave at a time.

Here's what I don't believe: any one person received a blessing from Zeus himself to "go out and be thou creative self." Like any pursuit, cultivating your innate creativity is a matter of practice. This brings the ol' nature/nurture discussion to play when it comes to talent.

You can come out of the womb with a paintbrush in one hand and a pen in the other, but if you don't ever use these tools, you might as well have entered the world double-fisting Big Macs.

What's my point here, you may ask. Well, as a creative writing instructor, I work with a lot of people that take a workshop and begin the class with, "I've always wanted to write, BUT..." All the sudden half their life passed and they never allowed themselves to write because they didn't believe they're creative or talented enough. 

I've also witnessed the transformation and self-discovery expressing our innate creativity bestows. To deny ourselves this based on a myth is just, well, sad.

So my point? If you're compelled to be creative in writing, art, or any other mode of expression, no more excuses! There's no magical wand sprinkling fairy dust of creative genius over one person's head and not another.

Being creative, like being athletic or kind or any other quality we may desire, takes practice. It's not a question of if you are a creative person, but when you chose to cultivate your unique creativity.