Can you be too creative?
I can draw. I can act, I can design an outfit, I can write (ish) – does that make me too creative or more creative than you? No…
Everybody is abundantly creative. We create life, relationships, homes, institutions, governments. Creativity is our natural state.
I can’t sing, by the way…but if I practiced I could. I may never sing like Beyonce or Adele but I’d have fun trying and I would get better. The voice is like any muscle it takes regular working out and as with anything you want to be good at you need to practice.
Can you learn to be creative?
You don’t have to. It’s a choice not a skill.
Creativity is playfulness! It is just being!
I chose to be creative. I was lucky enough to come from a family that enabled me to express myself creatively. I was encouraged to play. My family weren’t overly creative. Although, my dad was very playful and worked in a creative industry (he’s a stuntman- a whole other blog!) I was, however, given the freedom and space to use my imagination to create worlds, characters and stories.
As children we are free and uninhibited. However, as we grow up, we are bound by roles and rules. At school we are told when to sit down, when to eat and when to go home. At home we are told when to get up, what we should eat and when to go to bed. No wonder we lose the ability to play and create. Think back. Were you discouraged by a parent, teacher or other kids? Did someone say, “You can’t sing, draw or dance…” Did that stop you doing what you loved?
There is a fabulous Ted Talk by Sir Ken Robinson called ‘Does School Kill Creativity?’ in which he discusses the matter with great humour but demonstrates how integral expressing ourselves creatively is and how serious it would be to our health and wellbeing to lose it. It should, also, be noted that the creative industries account for over 10% of services exported abroad and is now worth over £100 billion to the UK economy.
Schools should be a breeding ground for creativity, a place where kids can express, experiment and find themselves. Not all children are academic, but they are all creative. Drama, art and music are obviously creative. Maths, music, English, chemistry? Still creative!
Is the business world intimidated by creativity?
I’m not sure about that. I know I’m slightly intimidated by business.
I don’t speak their language or wear their uniform. Corporate and SME leaders seem worried that collaborating with a “creative” will make them feel awkward or put them outside of their comfort zone.
Is that because creative people tend to work differently, in a more organic way? I certainly do. That comes from my training in art and drama and not because I’m different. I was given space to play and actively encouraged to make a mess! My way of working doesn’t demand creativity just an open mind.
I had the pleasure of working with a group of software developers at CIVICA as part of pilot innovation programme. I was amazed at how open the team were to play. Admittedly, they were on the 3rd day of workshops and pretending to be superheroes in order to understand customers they never met face to face must have been a welcome relief. Their willingness to play and improvise was refreshing and is a great way of getting a team to collaborate and think creatively. They seemed to enjoy it too.
Do you need permission to be creative?
No…but you do need space.
Reflect, pause and ponder. It will come. Keep it simple. Have you heard of the expression ‘style over substance’? When people try to be creative it feels false and grating. Don’t try too hard i.e. be creative for creative sake but do sit outside of your comfort zone. Do something different. Meditate. Join a club or class. Allow it the space to manifest. Don’t question, just accept. There is no right or wrong answer. As long as it feels right for you.
Perhaps there is something for you that brings joy, satisfaction, excitement, passion. For me it has always been around storytelling; writing an essay, article, making a short film, directing a play. Saying or writing something that creates a lightbulb moment for someone else. We all have the ability to create. When you sit in nature, looking to the sky and seeing shapes in the clouds or stars. When you hang a picture, plant a flower, play with your children, tell a joke, a story.
Why do you think it is that people in retirement discover they have some artistic talent? It’s because they have time to explore their creativity and experiment.
I don’t remember ever deciding to be creative, I just carried on doing what I had always done and when it came to choosing a career path I decided to make a living doing something I enjoyed, ignoring those that said ‘get a proper job!’
That’s why we can’t let theatre or music venues be another casualty of this pandemic. They are places that allow people to play and experiment, become designers, actors, writers, singers, musicians, directors.
Can you be creative in isolation?
Sometimes it’s the best place to be in order to create.
Creativity doesn’t need permission (you have that) it needs space- isolation.
Did you know when Playhouses closed due to plague in the 1590’s Shakespeare turned to writing love poetry, creating amongst other works the highly successful Venus and Adonis. Eleven years later when plague shut down the city of London again Shakespeare’s Kings Men toured the provinces. They eventually returned to perform Romeo and Juliet for King James – ‘A plague on both your houses…’
Isaac Newton spent two years in self-isolation during the Great Plague of the 1660’s. During this time, he developed Calculus. He called this his ‘Year of Wonders’.
And without the Black Death in the fourteenth century there would have been no Renaissance.
I have been so much more creative in lockdown; writing, reflecting, editing, learning – lots of learning. Building relationships, networking in a meaningful way – connecting, discussing, chatting – playing!!
This enforced ‘isolation’ could be the start of a new Renaissance for us all. A time when creativity could unleash new innovations and inventions in art design and technology enhancing society and the environment.
So, be bold – go create your own Year of Wonders!