Where does creativity come from? From my experience as a copywriter, it seems many people believe it's a mysterious force, limited to a select few known commonly as "Creatives." These peculiar souls wear ironic t-shirts, sit around whiteboards all day, sip cappuccinos and share a weird sense of humour that only they get. They're generally left to their own devices to come up with the ideas because, well, they're the "creative" ones.
But clearly, something about that way of thinking isn't right.
After all, we wouldn't refer to someone as being "logical" or "disciplined" with the same kind of peculiar emphasis. Yet somehow, creativity finds itself cast in a different realm of thinking entirely. Which got me thinking.
Why do people feel something so uniquely human is somehow completely beyond them?
Well, let’s see.
I consider myself hopeless at maths. Seriously awful. Algebra, trigonometry, long division ... all of these things scared the hell out of me at school. To me, numbers and all their terrifying combinations were out to baffle, confuse, irritate and embarrass me. I never really understood them, so quickly associated myself as somebody who just didn’t do maths.
Of course, the reality is a little more complex.
Like me, those who perceive themselves as lacking ability in something tend to shut down the possibility of ever improving at it. We find a facet of human intelligence that doesn’t come naturally and decide we’d rather not bother giving it a go, thanks very much. It’s kind of a defence mechanism I guess. But it’s a way of thinking that's particularly associated with creativity.
Perhaps it’s because that when we’re creative, it’s kind of personal. It’s informed by our thoughts, our emotions, sometimes our dreams. It’s a little window into our soul. So when it comes to offering up a creative idea, being shot down in flames feels personal.
But perhaps it’s time for a new definition of what being creative actually means.
If I asked you to close your eyes and imagine your dream house, you could do it. If I asked you to describe a few of its features, you’d soon be able to tell me the colour of the door, what the garden looks like, and if pushed, you could probably describe the colour of the tiles in your lavish greco roman swimming pool.
Given time, you could start picturing your house in greater detail. You might imagine what job you’d be doing to live in your dream house. What car is parked on your driveway. And how great your next door neighbours are. Pow! That’s creativity in action. You’ve just constructed an imaginary house and imaginary new friends with the power of your own thoughts - in just a few short minutes.
And it was easy.
So you see being creative doesn’t just mean coming up with a catchy line or an award- winning concept for your next marketing campaign. It can involve imagining new ways to communicate with your clients. Devising tactical sales messages to run throughout the year. Or moving the stock around in your shop to catch your customer’s eye.
The worst thing you can do is instantly class yourself as "not creative." You are. We all are. And the more open you are to thinking this way and sharing ideas, the more comfortable you’ll get at doing it.
Right, I’m off to brush up on my long division.