by Niki Turner
Creativity. That magical, elusive quality we see in others and fail to acknowledge in ourselves. Children seem to have it to excess... losing themselves for hours in make-believe stories, creating masterpieces with finger paints, banging out the concerto of all concertos on an out-of-tune piano, or having an imaginary friend so real parents set an extra place at the dinner table for him or her.
Creativity is essential to every expression of human life, from cleaning the bathroom to writing a novel to having a good marriage. Without it, life becomes stagnant and gross things start to grow. A dash of creativity can turn a boring task into something fun, or solve a problem that has boggled wiser, better educated minds. When it comes to the arts - music, writing, art, dance, theater, etc. - creativity is more than just spice. It's the very breath of the created thing, transforming the mundane into the extraordinary.
Creativity is defined as "the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination."
- Acknowledge your creativity as a tangible part of who you are, as real as any muscle or organ.
- What stirs your imagination? (Nature? An art museum? Music? Make time for that activity in your life.)
- Is something draining your creative juices? (Clutter? A rigid schedule? Too much, or not enough, noise? Determine what you can change and change it.)
- Do something routine in a different, unexpected way. (Eat spaghetti with your fingers. Brush your teeth in the kitchen.)
- Don't stifle your creativity by stuffing it into a format of traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like. There will be time for "grooming" later. Creativity must come first.
- Copying ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc., to meet some kind of status quo standard smothers genuine creativity under the weight of all those expectations.
No one will like it. - But do YOU like it? Who are you writing for, anyway?
It's not publishable. - Half of what's on the shelves today isn't publishable according to market definitions, particularly the really, really popular stuff.
That's out of my genre, or it's not even a genre that exists. - Who says you have to have a particular genre? Creativity isn't limited to a genre, or even to one talent!
Someone has said we have to give ourselves permission to "write a really bad first draft." That's true. We also need to give ourselves permission to write a really CREATIVE first draft, one that isn't suffocated by our grown-up expectations and regulations and rules. You wouldn't expect the child with the finger painting set to create a replica of the Mona Lisa, or the little girl dancing around the living room with her fairy wand to execute a perfect pirouette.
Just write it. Or paint it. Or dance it. Or make it. Give yourself to that part of you God authored that is so very much like Himself... your creativity, and let it soar. The more you yield to it, the better the expression will become. But you have to start with trust that the finger painting is a legitimate, valuable expression of creativity. There will be plenty of time to work your way through the paint-by-number, the structured ballet class, and the 1001 rules for publishing the perfect novel. Just don't try to start there.