If I asked you how creative you are, would you tell the truth?
Would you take an honest look at all the many ways your creativity is constantly being exercised each and every day, or would you spin me some fictitious story about it instead?
I’m not suggesting you would intentionally lie.
But sometimes, even if we think we are being truthful, we’re way off, simply because we haven’t caught up with our own progress and evolution.
We’re still holding on to a former version of ourselves that just isn’t accurate anymore. If it ever was.
There tend to be three main ways we can answer this “How creative are you?” question.
See which you recognise as the way you would most likely reply.
1. You tell a truth that never even was a truth.
You say you’re not very creative and never will be, because that’s what your parents or your school teachers or your art professor told you. Even though now you’re creating every day, and in the eyes of an outsider, a thriving imaginative artist, this old image of yourself – which was never even accurate in the first place – is still one you cling to and brand yourself with.
It doesn’t have to be devastatingly negative language either. Just holding the belief that you’re “not very creative” can become like a straightjacket and hinder you firstly from realising how creative you already are, and secondly going on to even greater heights with your work as you grow.
2. You tell a former truth.
You say you’re not very creative, remembering that period you were blocked for weeks on end, and felt unable to create a single word or note or brushstroke, let alone finish a project. You seem to have some kind of negativity filter that has holes in so the good slips through and only the hard times are retained, in precision detail.
Even though there have been plenty of richly creative periods since, that barren time is the one you tend to hold on to as the most accurate representation of your creative capability. Even if it was a couple of decades ago.
3. You simply tell the truth.
You say you’re very aware of how central to your life creativity is. You know that being creative and leading a creative life is not just about making art at the weekends or even every day, though that is an essential element. Your natural, inherent creativity infuses everything you do – how you think, see, learn, process, speak, act, and behave. You can’t switch it off.
(An example: Try not to think of a princess in a shimmering green dress, on a golden horse galloping through the woods as if her life depended on it. Try not to visualise the scene, and try not to start to imagine the backstory to this scene. You can’t help it, can you? That’s because you’re an imaginative, creative artist.)
Which of these three “truths” do you most often tell about your creativity?
Obviously, the last option is the one that’s going to serve you and your creativity best. I suspect that even after reading this far, you’re starting to realise that yes, that is a pretty good description of yourself, and has been all along.
You just didn’t let yourself see, and believe it, before.
To strengthen your belief in this truth further, here are a couple of exercises to try.
1. Write down all the different ways you’re creative.
Include all the recognised art forms you express yourself with, plus all the other ways your creativity comes into effect each and every day.
The way you prepare meals, the way you dress, the way you decorate your home, the way you organise social occasions, the way you solve day to day problems, the way you help others, and so on. Once you start writing these down, you’ll realise how many there are. You’ll need a large sheet of paper.
2. Take stock of all the artwork you’ve made in the last six months.
Be completely open and include everything – all the projects you started, all the works in progress, not just the ones you’ve finished.
Again, once you start writing these down (and it’s important to write them down, don’t just try to tally them up in your head) you’ll be surprised and impressed at how much there is.
After doing these two exercises, you’ll be well on your way to finding the truth about how creative you are. Which is of course what we all want to hear, not a fictional out-dated story about how creative you are.
More importantly, you need to hear the truth.
Then you can take all that creativity and the confidence it gives you, and become even more creative.
So, let’s return to where we began this conversation. Tell me, how creative are you?
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