I often hear people talk about how they “aren’t creative.” That, of course, is sometimes true. However, often we like to put creativity in a box with the assumption that it is reserved for a fortunate, chosen few who have been blessed with unending creativity.
The problem is not that we “aren’t creative,” but that we are afraid to create. Creating something is terrifying. You know the feeling. You sit down at your computer to start working on your novel, or you open Photoshop to take that new design project, and then you hear that quiet, pesky voice: What if people don’t like it? What if they think I’m a joke? Who do you think you are, trying to be someone you aren’t?
Truthfully, I think more people than not are incredibly creative. But, far many will never tap into their creative potential because of that taunting voice. The difference between people who never fulfill their creative potential and the people who we see as being extraordinarily creative is courage. Creativity takes immense courage.
I remember in a previous job getting a project that I was incredibly passionate about. As a graphic designer, I often visualize things before I even start to create them digitally. I began to work tirelessly all day pouring all of my creative ability into this project. Then, I turned it in. The client liked it, but they felt it wasn’t communicating what they wanted it to. As you can imagine, I was crushed. I was frustrated. I wanted to quit graphic design forever. I went back to the drawing board and I came up with another concept that the client loved, but I simply tolerated it as “good enough.” Of course, because hindsight is 20/20, I know that this failed project was largely my fault for not clearly communicating with the client. But when you are there in the moment, you feel like your creativity has been robbed and your identity has been stolen.
I could have easily let this experience prevent me from ever tackling a creative project again. Instead, I had to work up the courage to tackle the things ahead even with the pain and hurt of rejection still fresh. The ironic thing, of course, is that some of my best work I have ever done came after that low point.
So many of you who are writers, designers, artists, and creators have stories like this. There was a time where somebody told you, either directly or indirectly, that you weren’t creative and that you didn’t have what it takes, and you believed them. The funny thing is that you probably never took anything else that person said seriously, but that one hurtful criticism or off-hand comment paralyzed you. If you want to be creative, you have to believe that they were wrong.
So go on, open up that blank page. Go buy another blank canvas. Create a new Photoshop document. Take a deep breath, and create. Start typing. Begin painting. Start creating.
Your first draft or two will probably be terrible. Maybe by your fifth try you will start getting the hang of it. But, I promise that if you stick with it, you will begin to have the courage you need. You are creative.
What will you start to create today?