I was going to write a response to this article, but Chuck Wendig seems to have taken care of that for me, so just go read his instead. It has the added benefit of Urethral Bees. And if that doesn’t pique your interest, really, what are you doing with your life?
Instead, I’m going address another pervasive myth that creators of any kind have run across: the myth of the Creative Brain.
Raise your hand if you create—anything, from carpentry to cooking to handicrafts to sculpture, not just writing—and have heard this:
“I wish I could do that.”
“You were born with so much talent.”
And my personal favourite:
“Who even thinks of that?”*
What do all these statements have in common? They all assume the existence of a special type of mind, a creative type, which is different from a normal person’s. And, significantly, that this type is one that you are born with. Weren’t born like that? Fuck you, back of the Creativity Line.
Bullshit. No one is born creative. Or maybe the better way to look at is that no one is born uncreative. Life takes a certain amount of creativity, and you start right at the beginning, figuring out a way out of your crib and deciding if you can blame that mess on the dog. Children are creative. Just listen to one lie and you’ll be blown away by the breadth and depth of their deception. And by the way it doesn’t make sense, but that’s also creative. And awesome, even when they’re lying to your face about the ninjas that came from the ceiling vents to fight the dinosaurs from the basement and that’s how the lamp got broken.**
The difference between those kids and all the adults who mourn their lack of creativity is that no one tells the kids they can’t do it.***
Anyone can be creative. It’s just a matter of training your mind to think in certain ways. Ways that you, having grown out of dinosaur-fighting ninjas, probably think are dumb.
And that’s where the problem lies. People who think creative people are special forget that, for every idea that blows you away, we have hundreds, thousands, that are dumb. That don’t even make a lick of sense. That never pass the first test, which is: can I explain this to another human? ‘Should I’ is another important question, but that comes later.
You want the creativity, you have to be willing to be dumb. Silly. You can’t build the wall between ‘serious’ and ‘silly’ in your mind and expect things flow. You have to think the stupid things and not immediately push them away, because very clever things can often masquerade as stupid at first glance. Only by careful examination will you sort one from the other.
Best thing about this sort of thinking is that it’s never too late to start, if you really want it. Sure, it might be hard, but push against your brain boundaries and sooner or later they’ll give way.
And you never know: maybe you’ll like what’s on the other side of that wall more.
*I mostly like the undertone of horror with this one.
**For real, kids are awesome.
***All right, some people do, but they’re assholes.