We are all creatives. Brain science reveals this. To create is embedded in the responsive part of our brain. However, most Americans don’t exercise this part of our minds. Since nearly all of us come from immigrant backgrounds, we have a lot of social programming to use logic, rational, problem-solving. These are seen as more important and more valuable than creativity. Creativity is often viewed as a past time or hobby. You work, then if you have the skill, you get creative. It’s seen as risky. Within our culture is also the belief that creativity is endowed … like IQ or height.
I used to believe all of that. My voice joined the millions that said: “I’m not creative.” As stated, I have come to learn that we are all creatives. We all have some gift that can be expressed creatively. But we are not all creators. To become a creator is a conscious choice to move from following to creating. This choice to become a creator doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to quit your corporate gig and go become an artist. But it does mean that you will stop following a plan, following the rules, following the system and start designing the life you want.
To support my evolution from follower to creator, I crafted some rules. These are not necessarily your rules. I am not prescribing them to you. Part of becoming a creator is making your own rules, practices, systems.
- There’s an adventure in everything if we look for it. A spirit of adventure, curiosity, wonderment is an absolute essential — lest we get bogged down by tasks, obligations and worries.
- Exercise your creative muscles. Just like training for a physical competition, you can’t wait until the day of to begin using your muscles. You’ve got to train. And train hard. Creativity is a muscle that needs tending to. It can be exercised with imagination, small acts of creativity, scheduled creative time.
- It’s never done. Creativity is a living, breathing thing; an organism. While we may create something, creativity itself is iterative; in a state of constant evolution. I’m certain this is part of why Michelangelo’s last words were “I still have so much left to learn.”
- Don’t confuse striving with effort. Striving is in the mind. Effort is action. We can imagine in our minds, but we must make it real. Louis L’Amour said “One does not decide to become a writer, then start writing. One starts writing and becomes a writer.”
- Creativity is not a feeling. It’s energy. It may produce feelings (for me swinging between elation and depletion) but it is not a feeling. This is why we don’t wait to “feel” like creating. If we’ve exercised our creative minds, we will know this.
- Don’t force it. Let the muse lead. This is somewhat paradoxical because we do need to push through Resistance but we can’t force creativity. Creativity is embracing positive inertia. It is a living thing backed by cosmic forces of good. These forces want us to make art.
- Don’t trust a tired mind. Full credit for this rule goes to my creative/business partner Emily Soccorsy. I use it every time as a baseline for creativity. Sometimes it’s completely acceptable to take a nap, relax, rest — then create.
- You always have a choice. It is fairly easy to unconsciously fall back into follower mode — where you are reacting to life. When you are reacting to life, you forget you have the power of choice. We can choose our perspective, our actions, our language. We can choose to create.
- Root your creative output in purpose. It is difficult to create for the sake of creating. You may make something but it will feel flat, lifeless. The secret is to root everything you create in your purpose or mission. Make what you create the expression of your soul and it will be bursting with life.
- Create something every day. Don’t consider your day done until you’ve created at least one thing. Keep a log of what you’ve created. This is the essence of a creative practice.
Here are some elements of my creative practice:
- Writing musings (as seen on Instagram @fosterthinking)
- Writing on a memoir — I write 2000+ words every weekend.
- Regular writing of Medium or LinkedIn posts.
- Organizing my musings for future release as a series of books
I don’t really know what I’m doing. But I am following these rules. And I am getting better every day.