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What is a Creative Person?

When I say to people that I’ve written a book about being more creative, I usually get the same reaction. They are initially curious and interested.Then they either say ‘Oh i wish I had more time for my (fill in blank of creative pursuit), I should get your book’ OR they say ‘Oh I’m just not creative…I wish I was able to draw/write…’

The latter group are falling into the trap of thinking that to be creative you have to be a certain ‘type’. They usually mean that they are too boring, not ‘arty’, can’t draw, aren’t ‘whacky’ enough and since they don’t go around covered in paint, or living in some writer’s garret, or whatever ‘artistic’ cliche that springs to mind, they are simply not creative.

But what is creativity?
There are so many definitions, but the one I like is simply  – to bring forth ‘the treasures hidden within you’ to paraphrase Elizabeth Gilbert. Because we ALL have treasures within us, little ideas and inspirations. Oh, perhaps nothing we make will ever be put up for sale, that doesn’t need to be our aim for it to be creative. Our nuggets might be the stories we make up for our children or the way we add our own little touches to recipes. It might be how we plan out our gardens, or even just how we dress or add accessories to outfits, to make them just that bit different.

So often the people that say they are not creative, don’t even acknowledge that they do anything that is special or different.

I can’t sow, and my fashion sense is…well, basically I don’t really care. My favourite clothes shops are the yoga and sports shops, the outdoors shops and the bike shops. What’s in fashion? Not interested. What’s comfortable, and makes me feel good when i run or cycle? Take me there!
So, I am always deeply impressed by those people who can transform items they spotted in sales or charity shops into something fabulous. They can see the potential in that horrendous, unflattering skirt or that baggy, misshapen top. But do they see themselves as creative? Possibly, but they probably don’t appreciate just HOW creative they are being. It is just something they do, they don’t think about it, their brain just goes to that place.

We tend to admire what we can’t do or think we can’t do. I could probably learn to use a sewing machine, and follow a pattern, but I know that I would never think about clothes the way those people do. It’s simply not my thing. And that’s the crux –  what is our THING? That is the activity that we don’t even think about, we just do when we can, without any struggle.

I am a writer, so I find it easy to write. Now, writing well might be a different story, but I can sit and churn out emails and journal entries and stories with ease. I don’t find words a problem, I love it. I am astounded by the fact that others struggle to put together a 2 sentence email, and have to remind myself that they are not necessarily being abrupt when their responses are short and to the point.

I think about types of creativity in terms of instruments. There are numerous different types. Even within one group there can be many variations. Take guitars, which is my instrument of choice. There’s electric, acoustic, semi-acoustic, electro-acoustic. Within those there are sizes, styles….the list goes on and on. And all guitarists will have their preferred style, make, sound, shape, size, colour. One person playing a specific guitar will love it, and the next person will hate it. I once tried a £1000 acoustic guitar, well out with my consideration at the time. It was a top end make, it looked so amazing I was nervous to even touch it. Then I strummed it, expecting to feel awe at the gorgeous tone, but instead, I felt…meh…. I then tried a ‘lesser’ make, and it sounded fantastic.  I’m not sure but I’m going to assume that the same thing happens to other musicians when they try a different piano, or violin, even electronic instruments like keyboards must have something about them that makes one ‘fit’ a person better.

Then there are the skills required to play the different instruments. I was happy to struggle with painful fingers and aching shoulder as I learnt the guitar because it filled something within me. Yet when I learned the flute, I quickly got bored. It was ‘easier’ to get started on than the guitar, (it doesn’t cut into your fingers at least), but it left me empty inside.

My point is that everyone IS creative, just as all instruments make sounds, we are all different forms of creatives. We are all attracted to different areas of it, and we bring our individual experience, innate interests and skills to our work. We don’t dismiss a trumpet as an instrument just because we like the piano, and nor should we ignore our abilities or desire to do our creative thing, just because it doesn’t fit with the cliched ‘arty type’ we have in our heads.

Go forth and create however and whatever it is you feel driven to do. Who knows what magic lies within!

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