If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “I can’t draw a stick figure!” or “I don’t have a creative bone in my body!” I would certainly have a sizable savings account! I heard it again the other day. As soon as someone finds out you’re an artist, they immediately tell you they are NOT! I usually respond with, “You could learn to be if you had a few basic guidelines!” And usually, I get more denials and eye-rolls.
I’m not a cartoonist. I’m not a restauranteur. I’m not a city planner. But I am quite sure I could learn to be any of those with the attitude and training. I might, however, draw the line to becoming a physicist, an accountant, or an economist. Math is certainly not my forte and, even though I could probably learn to be passable, I don’t think you would want me on your team! It’s hard to be stellar at something you really do not like.
When I hear someone exclaim they are not creative, I cringe. Our creativity is a given if we believe we are a direct reflection of God, the greatest creator of all. I wish I could impart to everyone that they exhibit creativity in so many ways from the time they get dressed in the morning, to how they plan their day, how they solve a problem, prepare a meal, plant a garden, or pull off a birthday party. But as soon as someone mentions creativity, the first reaction is to rebuff the artist because they feel inadequate. We are taught by societal expectations that we need to be productive in more practical ways in order to make a living and be recognized.
Trust me, I will never be a Vermeer. It’s not my goal. I could probably pull off a reasonable facsimile of a great master if I tried hard enough but I’d rather do something that represents me, my training, and my interests. I’m not in competition with everyone else. If I compare my art to other artists I admire, then I can certainly find myself lacking. I paint, draw and create what I enjoy and if I want to improve, I practice more and seek more training. I enjoy learning and growing.
The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.
I’m reading Shut Up & Draw by Bob Doll. He peppers the book with his own humorous illustrations and what he has to say about creativity is exactly how I believe.
“The truth of the matter is that creativity in general and drawing specifically is a skill that can be learned with practice like any other progressive skill, such as math, welding, or selling insurance. Creativity, in general, can be practiced and like any other part of the mind you focus upon, the more you use it for creative purposes the easier it becomes.” (Bob Doll)
Yes, there are definitely those people who are predisposed to being great in their particular creative journey. Mozart was a musical prodigy and Michelangelo was certainly a master of his art. But knowing there are other Creatives with whom we could probably never compete should not disqualify us from tapping into our own creative potential. Again, we are not in competition. And we are not devoid of creativity. Believe me, I don’t expect to write great tomes that will surpass Harper Lee, Jane Austin, or Earnest Hemingway. I don’t doubt I am a good writer. In fact, it is the one creative endeavor I feel passionate about and am confident I can do well. I want to continue learning and growing in this arena, but it takes a lot of work and a concerted dedication to become a giant in any field and, truthfully, I don’t want to work that hard. I know, as do most artists or any genre, it takes a lot more than talent and ability to rise to the top.
Perhaps that is what people really mean when they say, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body!” Maybe they really mean they don’t want to work hard on becoming the best so they don’t even try! Saying they absolutely don’t possess the ability absolves them of the effort of trying.