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I feel compelled to begin this post by first defining the terms creative and artistic. Often these words can be thought of interchangeably in our minds and allow our fears to take control. In the end, the fears that arise can stop us from pursuing neither creativity nor art. And that’s just a lost opportunity. One that needs to be captured before it’s too late and dragged back to the realm of possibility.
A very simple and mainstream definition of the two…
Being creative is using your imagination to find a solution to a problem. You may have already clenched up at this stage. You may be thinking to yourself ‘But I can’t imagine something’. ‘I can’t find a ground-breaking solution’ or ‘Being creative is not me’. If you are in this boat, then I think it’s best we address these thoughts before we continue.
Imagination. This was probably the first word to impede your path. When you heard this, your mind probably imagined something as creative as a forest in Pandora. But stop to think back to what this word meant to you when you were younger. Remember a time when imagining was just staring into space and not paying attention? And if asked what your mind had conjured up, your response could be simple. as simple as, ‘thinking about eating my jam sandwich!’. And this would have been a perfectly acceptable response.
Something that I have begun to see recently is that words seem to operate on a sliding scale from low to high. From simple to complex. And, the position it sits on this sliding scale is different for each of us. Further to this, that position seems to be set by the amount of emotional baggage we have attached to the word.
In its raw state, the word imagination can be as interesting as eating a jam sandwich to a scene from Avatar. As we get older, we accumulate our unresolved issues. We begin to operate and be a part of different environments, ones that are beyond family and friends. As these things happen in the background, our position on the sliding moves higher and higher. To the point where imagination has now come to mean something grand. Nothing smaller than remarkable. Something that will be worthy of the history books.
For words that you come across in your daily life, that seem to have some hold over you, stop to observe them. Think about what that word means to you and ask yourself is this the real definition? Force yourself to look up the dictionary definition. Acknowledge it. See that your definition is much more embellished than the dictionary version. Then consider it on a sliding scale of low to high; simple to complex. Whatever is more relevant to that particular word. Ask yourself to name something that sits on the lower end. Then something on the higher end. Identify where your personal definition sits. Is it fair where you have decided to put yourself on this sliding scale? Is it fair to yourself to set such high expectations for yourself?
Imagine if you could remove your mark on the sliding scale and arbitrarily place it on the lower end? Do it. Imagine where you are when you are at that end of the scale. Are you happy? Do you smile at the thought? That’s where you need to be.
And as for the perfectionists and high achievers reading this? The ones that can’t accept selecting a spot on the lower end? Then I say this to you. I’m sure by now, your journey through life has taught you that achieving quality and success take effort and practise. You will never become great if you don’t ever practise and get good at being average.
Solutions to Problems
‘Solution to a problem’ – this is a most interesting one. A solution to a problem can be something:
- tried and tested
- slight variation of an existing solution
- solution from another domain
- new and original
Again the diversity here is representative of a sliding scale. If re-reading the definition of creativity is still freaking you out, then you can choose a solution that has been ‘tried and tested’ before. It might not seem as bright and shiny as something new and original but it is still a solution and that was your aim right? That is, before the emotional triggers set in when you read the word ‘creative’.
How To Be Creative
I hope by now that the terms ‘imagination’ and ‘solution to a problem’ have less of a hold on you than before. That you have attained a useful tool to help guide you through the discomfort these words may strike up. Most importantly, I hope that you now believe ‘creativity’ is achievable. That it’s a matter of stringing together imagination and a solution.
So now I invite you to consider the definition of ‘artistic’. Although often artistic and creative are considered to be one of the same, they are not. Being artistic is having a skill that is in the arts. Like painting skills for painted art. Or illustrator skills for digital art. So these two words are actually are not one of the same. You should find this liberating. Having yourself distinguish between the two words, should give you a sense of freedom. So that you can see that you can be creative without being artistic. Because they are in fact two separate concepts. Moving forward, focus on your goal to be creative. Unless the image in your mind is actually you of painting. Then I’d say that you have just uncovered an inner desire to be artistic rather than creative. Once you have attained your goal of being more artistic, then you add creativity to the recipe.