By: Elena Campos
“But why do I need to be creative?” he asked me rather abruptly. I was in the middle of my lecture at the College of Health and Human Services on the subject of how art therapy could impact one’s spirituality, and I wanted to reply, “Well, because creativity is amazing,” but that clearly did not convey the amount of knowledge I had on the subject. Hoping to provide all of the detailed information he needed, I responded to his inquiry by telling him we could meet after class to discuss it further, but he didn’t stick around after the lecture, and I never saw him again.
The young man’s face and his question stuck with me for many years. This big question he had asked me to explain has also raised many others that I have wanted to seek answers for. Who squashed this young man’s creative spirit, and how can I help prevent that from happening to others? What had made him think twice about putting pencil to paper? How can I rekindle that creative spark in anyone who feels like they have lost it? How can I help spread creativity?
In the beginning, I attended Kalamadoodle events not only as a way for me to flex my creative muscles, but also, as a way for me to further understand this question of, “why do I need to be creative”. I thought there was no better way to comprehend this great topic than to be fully submerged in the idea of creativity with my peers. Walking from table to table, admiring the pieces of artwork and talking to their creators, seemed like a great place for me to start building the answer to this question. Fast forward to today and here I am, writing about creativity, trying to change one mind at a time about why it is so incredibly important.
I often see people struggling to get in touch with their creativity. In my many rounds at each monthly Kalamadoodle event, I notice at least one person cautiously playing with a colored pencil or crayon, but can’t seem to put a mark on paper. Or, away from events, when I talk publicly about the idea of bringing craft and creativity together, someone always comments that they can’t draw a straight line, so clearly Kalamadoodle isn’t right for them. And even more heartbreaking, is to witness someone who says they aren’t creative at all. GASP!
"You don’t have to find validation from the masses to create something of meaning."
First, it seems most important to clarify what creativity is at a fundamental level. Creativity can be defined in many ways, just like “love” or “happiness”. While it may be hard to describe this magical idea, at its core, creativity is taking new and imaginative ideas and putting them into reality. Whether they are physically tangible like artwork, a novel or the next great invention, or intangible concepts like ideas, music and personal transformations; it is the act of thinking outside the proverbial “box” and producing something worthwhile and valuable. And of course, the creator can solely define what makes it, “worthwhile and valuable”. That idea is what makes creativity so powerful. You don’t have to find validation from the masses to create something of meaning. You alone can find great value from what you create and that can be enough.
The next thing to focus on when it comes to creativity is that everyone is inherently creative; something we are born with. I can hear skeptics scoffing at my claim, but hear me out. One of my most favorite quotes on this subject is from an article in the 2009 November/December issue of Psychology Today by Carlin Flora. In her article “Everyday Creativity” she says,
“When we think of creativity, we think of Mozart, Picasso, Einstein – people with a seemingly fated convergence of talent and opportunity. It’s too narrow a set of references, because the truth is that all sorts of people, possessing various levels of intelligence and natural ability, are capable of engaging in fulfilling creative processes. Just because you’ll never be Brando or Balanchine doesn’t mean you can’t harness your idea-generating powers and make your life your own masterpiece”.
When we believe in the idea that only people who have a natural talent or who have spent their entire lives training to be an artist, or dancer, or musician or chef, have the ability to put their creativity to good use, it is doing nothing more than preventing you from appreciating your own creative potential. Plus, you are more likely to squash the creative urge of those around you if you believe only a few can be creative masters. The key is to remember that creativity is part of our human existence, a gift given to us at birth.
Some of the most creative individuals in the world are children. They have this seemingly endless supply of imagination that can come up with stories, pictures, scenarios and eventually, little personalities that makes them unique individuals. The hardest part is to continue to foster that youthful sense of wonder and wild imagination, into adulthood, so we can continue to expand our creative tendencies throughout the rest of our lives. Believing that a creative spark is only found in children is a thought that prevents adults from reaching their creative potential. We are born with this trait. It is only for our benefit that we keep that creative spark burning brightly.
So as I said, we are born creative. The hardest part is staying creative. While Kalamadoodle mainly focuses on creativity from an art making perspective, creativity does not start (or stop) there. Luckily, there are so many ways in which you can begin to foster your creative thinking. Here is a VERY short list of ideas to get you started:
- Try a new route to work, school, or your favorite coffee shop
- Style your hair a new way or wear different clothes
- Play pretend
- Make music
- Dance in your living room, or take a dance class
- Try a new recipe
- Get a tattoo (temporary or permanent)
- Reorganize your living room
- Take an unplanned trip
- Write a real letter – not an email
- Read poetry
- Day dream
- Tackle unsolved dilemmas in your life
- Try a new form of exercise
- Talk to strangers
- Take photographs
- Visit a flea market or antique store
It is not always the product of our creativity that has value and meaning. It isn’t always the poem that you write or the meal you cook or the photograph that you take that is amazing. To be completely honest, the product might be a terrible. In fact, it probably will be terrible if this attempt at creativity is completely new to you. I know I have sat down to try something new and failed at my first attempt. But that is just fine! What is most important is the act of using your creativity over and over again. It is the PROCESS that has the most benefit. Using your creative muscles and practicing creativity regularly makes it flow more easily from you. And, who knows? You may actually surprise yourself with the product of your new creative endeavor and it could be the most amazing thing you have ever done!
We have covered what creativity is, who can be creative and how you can practice creativity everyday. So now, we have reached the big question. The very question that started it all, “Why should I be creative?” It is still a loaded question, full of possibilities and endless discussion. It has taken me years to build a foundation of understanding to get to a point where I can confidently tackle this question, and how it benefits you and the world around you. So, I believe it is time to give you a break, and allow you to think about how you are already creative, and let you process new ways to be more creative.
In fact, lets meet up at the next Kalamadoodle event and talk about it more. I want to hear about your current creativity and how you plan on taking it to the next level. Enjoy a break during the midweek grind, and flex your creative muscles with us at Rupert’s Brew House, March 16th from 6:30-8:30pm. Come drink and draw with us and we can talk about creativity.
Also, stay tuned next month for a follow up blog post on my reasons for why you should be creative everyday. My hope is to continue this discussion on creativity and how it can benefit and change your life. Combining a bit of humor, some personal stories, a little research and many years of experience and insight, I hope to continue to spread creativity and help to inspire you to find new and exciting ways to be creative everyday. Doodle on, my friends! Until next time…