One of the things I do quite a lot these days is speak to other people about creativity. The conversation normally starts because someone says to me, “Oh well, that’s easy for you to say because you’re a writer, you’re creative…” This leads me to launching into my current favourite rant.
The thing I guess that concerns me most about this response is not so much that I think EVERYONE is by nature creative and just ignoring it. It is more the overall, society-wide ghetto-isation of the notion of creativity and the, frankly, lies about it that go with this attitude. Yes, you heard me, lies.
Lies like this:
Creativity is spontaneous, you can’t plan or structure it, it has to just happen.
Living life with any kind of routine or structure will kill your creativity.
There are so few really creative people you can’t just assume you’re good enough to make it.
And so on and so on with infinite variations.
I have come to view this as a method of control. The status quo would prefer there to be few creative people, who can only create spontaneously and unpredictable because CHANGE threatens the status quo. When you are creative, you are creating change all the time. It’s safer for the way things are if you didn’t.
If we were all more creative (not Da Vinci creative, just more creative than we generally are) we would ask for less advice and guidance, and rather do our own thing. We would need less rules and ruling, and make up our own rules. We would need less structure and control, and just be who we are inside anyway.
The flip side of this is that I encounter increasingly fewer people who live ‘normal’ lives who are to a large degree happy with that life. They mostly feel compromised, bitter and a bit angry. But they are honest, hard working and dutiful so they would never dream of leaving. What would these people have been if they had been more open to creativity, less judgemental of this aspect of their character?
Because this is the other thing, creative people are deemed to be weird, almost unnatural and unicorn-like beings that need to be treated differently because what we do is so alien. It is not. Bill Gates and Donald Trump are among the most creative beings on the planet. Every time an accountant solves a complex accounting problem, they are being creative. It is part of what we are and how we address the world. We just keep it in a box that everyone else agrees is safe.
If more business and industrial minds could embrace their creativity maybe we would have greener fuels, space travel, teleportation, fee-less banking, borderless sovereign countries… who knows? But we don’t because we stay within the lines when we paint, we don’t adapt and change the world around us because we can’t, we tell ourselves, we are not creative.
Next time you tell yourself that, remember finger painting at year one of school. Remember wool pom poms and the fantastic stories you used to make up as a child about your favourite comic character or to explain something you saw. We’ve all got it, some of us have just agreed that we should pack it away in a box because we have reached a certain age. I urge you to unpack it, learn to use it again and let’s see what change we can bring to this world.