Challenge These Nine Myths and Reclaim Your Creativity

Do you confuse creativity with being artistic? Or perhaps you believe only a tiny fraction of the population is born with creativity. If you do, you have bought into a myth. Challenge these nine myths and reclaim your creativity.

Computer keyboard with a large red key labeled "be creative." Have you bought into a myth?Challenge these nine myths and reclaim your creativity.

Myth #1: Creativity is Artistic Expression

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, creativity is “the ability to create” and “the quality of being creative.” Not very helpful. But they define create as “to bring into existence” and “to bring about by a course of action or behavior.”

So if the dictionary doesn’t mention artistic in the definition of creativity or create, then why limit what is creative? Creativity is bringing something into existence by a course of action or behavior. 

There is a whole blog post on on this site about how You Don’t Have to be an Artist. Every day “ordinary people” are creative. If you think creativity is only artistic expression, broaden your definition. You’ll find examples of creativity during a walk around your house, your neighborhood, or city. 

Myth #2: Only A Minority is Creative

All humans are innately creative. Watch a bunch of young children play. A stick becomes a doll, gibberish becomes a special language, cardboard boxes become castles. They create new games, new toys, new languages out of nothing but their imaginations.

Unfortunately, our society systematically drives that creativity away. From grade school on, they label creative behaviors disruptive or unproductive. They label creativity as artistic, as genetic, as many things that exclude most people. 

You may not be the next Rembrandt or the next Madame Curie, but your creativity is a gift. And you can open it at any time.

Myth #3: People are Born Creative

newborn baby with artists supplies around him--challenge these nine myths and reclaim your creativity

There is no known gene for creativity. Some people call it a trait. Others say it’s a way of thinking. A way of rubbing two ideas together and getting something different, something new.

Recent evidence suggests that creativity involves a complex interplay between spontaneous and controlled thinking.

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Some people are more comfortable with this kind of mash-up thinking. Why?

Probably because from a young age their upbringing, their environment, and their level of curiosity encouraged them. Without that environment and support, it may be more difficult to learn to use creative thinking—but it’s not impossible.

Some People are Born Uncreative

How sad to think you are born uncreative. If you believe you are uncreative your belief blocks off a trait all humans share. 

Perhaps you believe you are uncreative because you don’t have big idea. Being less creative that Steve Jobs, or your favorite songwriter, doesn’t make you uncreative. And the first step to become more creative is to believe that you can. Does that sound like mumbo jumbo to you? Take the challenge. Believe that you are creative.

People are Creative (or not) Based on What They Do

Another sad myth. Creativity comes in all jobs, in all forms, in all kinds of ways. Seriously, anyone can be creative. Now, that being said, some employers do not reward creativity. Another very sad fact is that some employers punish creativity. 

If the environment you’re in doesn’t support creativity, consider finding a different job. And if that’s not possible (we’re all suffering from the economic fallout of 2020 and the pandemic), then find another outlet for your creativity. 

Creativity comes in a Flash of Insight

Image of a black man thinking with illustrations of gears above his head, each gear holds a symbol for an idea.

Eureka! That’s what the cartoon characters say when they have a creative insight, right? You’re not a cartoon character. Sometimes creativity can come in a flash of insight, but 99% of the time—it comes as a bit of an idea that you toy with for a while. And in toying with it, another idea or two comes to mind. Finally, they meld together and you have your “flash” of insight.

Creativity must be Original  

Are you catching on that this myth isn’t true either? 

History and empirical research show more evidence that new ideas are actually combinations of older ideas and that sharing those helps generate more innovation.

.https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229600

A variation of this myth is what some creatives call “the Imposter Syndrome.” The syndrome is a niggling doubt that says you can’t be or aren’t creative because what you did isn’t wholly original. But know this—as long as you aren’t plagiarizing the work (passing someone else’s work off as your own)—you can’t help but make your work original. No one else has your experience, your esthetics, or preferences. Your creation IS original and creative.

Lone Creator Myth

four outstretched arms with white cuffed shirts and four fists make a square. Challenge these nine myths and reclaim your creativity.

There are lone creators, but that’s not the only way creativity happens. Sometimes a pair is more creative than a single person. There are many examples in history. Think Marie and Pierre Curie, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, or Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. The Manhattan Project was a team of scientists that created the atom bomb. The Three Stooges were a team that created their own brand of comedy. What teams of creators do you remember?

Creativity Can’t Be Developed

You can prove this myth wrong. There are hundreds of exercises you can do to develop or enhance your creativity. Try the three methods mentioned in this post. Or use any of the science-backed ways in this post on Entrepreneur.

Which of These Myths Are Limiting Your Creativity?

Myths are insidious. We learn them so early and so well that we believe them. Even when the evidence in front of us suggests differently, we hold on to the myth. Don’t let myths hold you back. Challenge these nine myths and reclaim your creativity. Don’t think one of these myths are holding you back? There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of variations. Which ones are holding you back?

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