Being Creative

Being Creative

Do a Google search on job skills and you will find ‘creativity’ listed as one of the most in-demand skills for the future.

Creativity is a word that gets thrown around with abandon. We all sort of know what it is, and there are many earnest and worthy articles, just a quick web search away, that will outline just how important it is.

Much of this literature is sensible enough, certainly nothing that an arts practitioner like me would quibble with. And yet I can’t shake the feeling that, at the same time as creativity is being so endlessly touted and taught, the very idea as to what creativity is remains a little vague somehow.

Perhaps I am struggling with the idea that creativity is mostly described as a skill in these career-focused articles. And it is certainly that, don’t get me wrong. But it is other things as well. Creativity is a mindset, an attitude, a way of life. It could also be seen as a set of habits. If you want to bring your creativity to the fore, then explore ways of bringing it into your life in myriad small acts: follow artists on social media so that you see art every day. Read a poem every day on the bus into work or listen to creatives talking about their process or read their poems on a podcast. Join a community choir or a punk band and practice once a week. Play word games inside your head while you queue for to buy your lunch.

If we only think of creativity as only being a skill, then we are selling ourselves short. It is like seeing the sun as only a thing that plays a part in making plants grow instead of a thing that is essential for all life as well as being a star as well as being something we delight in as well as being the subject of art as well as being regarded as a God in some civilisations….

Yes, creativity is a skill that can be strengthened. Actually, it is a meta-skill that is comprised of, and amplifies the use of, other skills that can be learnt and refined. But the danger of seeing it as only – merely – being a skill is that a perception can creep in that creativity is something that lives outside of us, something that must be acquired.

But creativity is an innately human quality. Creativity can be discouraged or buried, true, but so too can it be encouraged and made manifest in the way we live our lives.

A person with thought bubbles coming out of their head
Cover art by Rebecca Stewart

The ways in which we manifest creativity can be learnt (or unlearnt). Skills such as drawing, or teamwork, or needlework, or critical thinking can be studied and improved. But the creativity they are in service to is embedded deep within the DNA of the personality of each and every one of us. Creativity is potential to be recognised, not something to be acquired or lost.

In our society we identify some people as being creative and infer, therefore, that others are not. Obviously, the people who sing, dance, act, or design, are highly creative, and these people, because they are immersed within a world that encourages their creativity are often adept at a multitude of technical and implicit creativity skills because of this.

But no one is not creative. So, if you are contemplating a change in your career or developing a project or activity on the side and you are feeling downhearted because you have not been designated as ‘creative’ by our mad society then take heart because this is quite untrue.

You are creative. As a member of the human race, you can’t not be. So, the trick is to find out what your potential is and how to start recognising that.

Stop looking outside of yourself to acquire creativity. Look within yourself to:

  • Reclaim an identity as being a uniquely and innately creative being.
  • Open up dialogue with this being and learn to trust its workings.
  • Get a sense of the conditions that allow you to recognise and nurture the expression of this creative being. Are there opportunities, resources, people, or pockets of time available to you to explore your creativity?
  • And please don’t compare your creativity to anyone else’s. What fires up my imagination might squelch yours.

Do all of this and then go and chase the activities and skills that align with and allow you to express the creative identity that is uniquely yours.

The wonderful thing about creativity is that it is an innately human quality: we are all creative. But the lovely thing is that we are all creative in our own individual and unique ways. And our creativity will evolve and adapt to the stage of life that we find ourselves in. So, develop a sense of confidence in your creative identity, explore it and understand it. Make friends with it so that as you go through life, and as your career and sense of vocation evolves, so too does your unique creative identity. It can never disappear, only change.

So where is your creativity ‘at’ right now? How are you friends with it? What can you do to explore it?

‘Relate: A resource for connecting to your creative self’ is a workbook with word games and thought exercises that help you to identify and express your creative skills playfully, imaginatively, and positively. Buy here:

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