Here’s the thing about creativity. Everybody has it. At least a little bit. All you have to do is watch a bunch of little kids play to see the truth of this. We’re all born with a creative spark.
Most people think creativity should be encouraged in children, but somewhere along the line (I’m not sure where) we set up a double standard. We admire creativity in others, actors, musicians, writers, but it’s from afar. I could never do that, we tell ourselves. I’m not creative, I’m an adult with a real job (whatever that is) and responsibilities.
I tend to think those lines of thought are excuses or defense mechanisms as much as anything. Because even though we’re all born with the creative spark, a spark needs to be nurtured into flame if it’s to endure. We’re each responsible for tending our own flame, and if we let it go out it’s our own fault. It’s easy to blame job or other responsibilities, and it’s true that there seems to be no end of forces trying to smother that flame. But in the end it’s our own fault if it goes out.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that it never really goes out.
It might be a tiny ember, barely glowing, but that’s enough to start a fire. You’ll have to fan it a bit, and feed it with some good fuel, but it’ll catch. There’s more good news. You get to decide how big a blaze, and a campfire can be as cheery as a bonfire.
Being an actor is great, but so is making up stories with your kids. There are some truly amazing musicians to admire, but I’ve seen amateurs with a few beers and a couple guitars having a hell of a good time. Any value judgment on creativity is purely arbitrary and not really meaningful. Whether you write poetry or do needlepoint, play cello for an orchestra or play Elvis songs on a fifty dollar ukulele, improv, flash mobs, chainsaw carving, it’s all feeding that creative fire.
There’s one more thing. This is another thing that scares people. You need to put yourself out there. You need to share it. Even if you don’t quit your day job, share your creativity with other people. Don’t be the guy huddled in a little room, building ships in bottles, and then hiding them away. True, he might be feeding his own creative spark, but he’s hogging all the light and warmth for himself. Campfires are always better with a few people sitting around them. Creativity flourishes in environments already rich with creativity. It feeds on itself and it spreads, you’ll get as many ideas as you give, because creativity, like enthusiasm and passion, is contagious. When you share, it makes it a little easier for someone else to share. When you’re sharing, you’re feeding not just your fire, but everyone else’s.
So go start some fires.