Being creative means solving a problem in a new way. It means changing your perspective. Being creative means you know how to find the similarities and differences between two completely random ideas.
Being creative means taking risks and ignoring doubt and facing fears. It means breaking with routine and doing something different for the sake of doing something different. It means mapping out a thousand different routes to reach one destination. It means challenging yourself every day. Being creative means searching for inspiration in even the most mundane places. It means you’re asking stupid questions. It means creating without critiquing. Being creative means you know how to find the similarities and differences between two completely random ideas.
Being creative means you’re thinking.
A designer wrote this to me yesterday:
“I don’t feel like I’m as creative as others are, and it holds me back from really pursuing design work.”
I wrote back:
“You mentioned not feeling as creative as other people. I don’t, either. At least, not the way people usually mean it. The times someone has said to me, ‘You’re so creative,’ I’ve squirmed a little inside. My knee-jerk thought is, ‘No I’m not. Other people, like fine artists or novelists or engineers or inventors, are creative.’
I’m not aiming for creativity. I’m aiming for clear communication. If my design gets that job done, I’ve succeeded. I never stop and think about how creative it is. It doesn’t need to be creative—just functional.”
And not plagiarize anything, of course.
But now that I think about it, what does “creative” even mean?
Does it have to mean imaginative or clever or unexpected? Maybe a “creative” person is simply someone who creates regularly.
The suffix “ive” means “having a tendency to.”
If you tend to express feelings a lot, you are emotive. If you always include everyone, you’re inclusive. If you regularly speak up, you’re assertive. If you jog a lot, you are… exercsive. If you make soup every day, you are cookive. If you frequently bring things into existence, you are creative.
There’s no requirement for those things to be good or special. (But they might eventually end up that way, if you keep going—an accidental byproduct of practice.)
I think we’ve set the bar too high and created a mental hurdle for “being creative.” Maybe the only requirement is frequency. I find this idea comforting.
Just build something, write something, draw something, calculate something, make something. Anything. Then repeat.
You’re creative. Keep Creating.