Why Your Beliefs About Creativity Matter More Than Talent

Are you in the camp that believes creativity is a gift or a talent? Perhaps you believe you aren’t creative, or you lost your creativity, or that you have a creative block. All these beliefs can be true…and false. 

photograph of a young child's hands holding a red plastic knife cutting through a ball of multicolored play dough. with unrecognizable play dough shapes in the foreground.

What Creativity Isn’t

Creativity isn’t like your teeth. You are born without teeth. Baby teeth grow in. Then, at a certain age, you lose your baby teeth. Those baby teeth are gone for good. Sure, adult teeth come in, but even they aren’t permanent. You may lose one or all of your teeth. That is not how creativity works. 

What Creativity Is

Creativity is more than a definition. It’s a mindset, a way of thinking. As children, you don’t need to be taught how to be creative. You believe you can, so you try. Sometimes those attempts are successful. Sometimes they are not. As you grew older, and hopefully wiser, you learn that tries that are unsuccessful are failures. Often that’s not an actual lesson in school, but it’s a lesson in attitude. If the authority figures and peers in your life treat your tries as successes, you learn that trying is the success. If they treat your tries as failures, you learn that trying is failing and failing is bad. 

How Your Beliefs Get Twisted

Very few of us ever want to do badly, so those who learned failure is bad stop trying. That mindset requires that you not be creative. But you don’t make that a choice, it is a default. So you stop trying to figure out a different solution or path. And that’s not the only reason some of us stop being creative.  

Some of you learn, in the same way, that being creative isn’t sustainable. You learn that you’ll never earn a living unless you do something practical. Others of you have critical life issues that consume your time and emotional and physical energy. For a multitude of reasons, you make the choice to set aside your creativity while you focus on being practical or dealing with life issues. 

Beliefs that Weaken Creativity

There is nothing wrong with being practical or not wanting to fail or with spending your time and energy on life issues. But watch out for:

  1. Inaccurate beliefs – It’s not creative unless it’s “original.” That (fill in any form of creativity) is an inborn talent. I am not gifted. I’m not good enough.
  2. Self-critical – I have no talent. I’m not as good as (fill-in-the-blank).
  3. Jealousy – I should have/could have created that, then I’d be just as famous or rich or whatever. Or, he got the lucky breaks I didn’t get. 
  4. Comparisonitis – I started at the same time as (fill-in-the-blank), but I can’t sell half what he does. I’ll never produce product as fast as (fill-in-the-blank) does. 
  5. Listening to Others – (fill-in-the-blank) says I’m not original enough. My mother says it’s cute that I try. 
  6. Fear of imperfection – If I try, I’ll just fall flat on my face. I’m not good enough. I can’t get it right.
  7. Fear of judgment – So & so said it was terrible. Or, what if so and so said it was terrible? My significant other (parent, peer, etc.) laughed at it. I can never show it to anyone else.
  8. Fear of the blank page (or canvas or screen, etc.) – I don’t know where to start.
  9. Feeling empty or a longing for something – I’ve got nothing left. I don’t know if that’s the right thing for me. 
  10. Can’t say no – I have an obligation/responsibility/duty to do (fill-in-the-blank). I don’t have time. The PTA, committee, team, etc. needs me.
  11. Too much unproductive time -Too much time watching tv, on social media, on the phone, or other forms of procrastination.

You may tell yourself one or all of those things. All of them have one thing in common: they help you avoid a fear. At least 99% of the time, all of those are a lie you’ve told yourself. Why? Because it protects you from your fear. It’s easy. It’s the path of least resistance.  

Overtime, that lie feels like truth. Especially if you “tried” to be creative again, and you “failed.” Obviously, you were correct in thinking you never were, or had become, uncreative.

Retrain Your Brain

Image of the side-facing silhouette of a person with a brain-shaped word cloud in his head and the words "retrain your mind" below that.

Your creativity has grown weak from disuse. Much like a muscle is weak when you haven’t exercised it for a long time, you will need to practice being creative. Practice thinking and trying. Just like weak muscles need training, retrain your brain. How do you do that? 

1. Stuck in a misbelief? 

Turn that misbelief upside down. Practice saying the opposite of what your misbelief is. For example, if your misbelief is that you aren’t original enough, repeat the phrases: “Nothing is original. Everything is unique. I am unique.” It’s a fake it until you believe it kind of thing. 

2. Too Self-critical? 

Do you honestly think Shakespeare or Dean Koontz or Nora Roberts never write a wrong word? Or that they never have a bad day? Maybe their bad day means they only wrote 3000 words instead of 5000 or maybe their bad day means the next day they threw away all 5000 words they wrote the day before. But after years of practice, they know how to mine those 5000 words for the gems that are there. 

Even Da Vinci painted over paintings. Did he do it to be cheap or because he didn’t like the first painting? Bet he wouldn’t have painted it over if he liked the first one. 

3. Jealousy. 

It’s difficult to see that other people’s success isn’t a reflection of your own skills or aptitude. Stop exposing yourself to whatever triggers that jealousy (Facebook, Instagram, Art magazines, etc.). Instead of focusing on the other person’s success or your lack of success, focus on learning the skills you need to level up your work. 

4 Comparisonitis

Remove the trigger for comparisonitis whether that is social media or television or some other source. Focus on yourself. Practice gratitude. Learn to compete only with what you did yesterday, the week before, or the year before. Record your growth and which skill you want to focus on in the future.

5. Listening to Others

You guessed it, remove yourself from the trigger if you can. If you can’t, try letting the ones telling you hurtful things how you feel about what they said. Or tell them you would appreciate them keeping their comments to themselves. 

6. Fear of Imperfection

Give yourself permission to be imperfect. Do it out loud if that helps. Sometimes you can trick your brain. For example, while writing my first draft, I tell my inner editor, “Your turn is the next draft. Be patient. You’ll get to fix all the problems soon.” Or trick your brain by telling yourself, “It’s okay, this is just for practice.”

7. Afraid of criticism 

Read the 1 star reviews of your favorite book(s) or product that you idealize.. Seriously, some of them may have valid points but you will find many that either missed the point entirely or never read the book. I’ll bet at least one of them makes you laugh out loud. If this is a difficult thing for you, don’t ask for or read criticisms of your work. You can have someone else read them for you and distill them into kind ways to help you grow as a creative. Or simply ignore them. Focus on learning and refining all your skills. 

8. Fear of the blank (page, canvas, screen, etc.)

Write or doodle the same thing over and over until your brain can’t stand it and writes something different. Free write about how you feel physically or emotionally. Or write about a passion: how someone pissed you off or how much you love and care for someone. Try setting a timer for 5 or 10 or 15 minutes and write nonstop for that time, then quit for the day. Write a letter to yourself or your hope or your favorite person. Re-write a scene or the end of a book you didn’t like. Copy the words directly out of a book you read and liked. Write about how you’d fix a world problem. The point is to practice a skill. Think of it as practice. 

9. Feeling Empty

This can be difficult. If this feeling is interfering with your daily life, with taking care of yourself, seek professional help. 

Sometimes, feeling empty is because you’ve exhausted yourself. Sometimes you have a creative slump — your creative mind needs a refill. Consume quality creativity. Go to a museum or gallery or library. Walk in the footsteps of a creator you admire. Read a biography about that person. Listen to inspiring music. Take a walk and appreciate nature. Explore your why. Why do you feel empty? What triggers that feeling? What would the opposite feel like? 

Read a good book, listen to great music, or get outside. Work in the garden or go to the nearest creek and dip your toes in. Study a master of your craft. Practice a basic skill. Do the easiest thing you can in your craft. Think of it as a warmup exercise before a marathon or like a singer running the scales to warm up her voice. Try something different — if you’re a sculptor, try writing a poem. If you’re a computer programmer, try moving to music. (Dance if you can, but if you can’t just let your body move in response to how the music makes you feel.)

10. Can’t say no.

You’ve got a good heart. You want to help everyone, be there for everyone. But you need to be there for yourself, too. Sometimes that 5 minute task or 30 minute visit can ruin your whole day. You worry about it beforehand, prepare for it, then worry about it afterwards. Just say no. 

Manage your commitments. Choose the ones you can do well within a limited time frame. Set a time to work on your creative project and protect that time. Let family and friends know this is your time and you won’t let non-emergencies interfere with that time. 

11. Too much unproductive time. 

Think you don’t have unproductive time? Log how much time you spend on what activities for a two- to four-week period. Then look at how you spent the time. If social media or computer games are sucking up your time, there are apps for that. They can “lock access” to programs for a time. You can also give yourself a time of day or number of hours per day you can enjoy those activities. Start small and increase it as you can. If that doesn’t work, try cold turkey. Remove the temptation for an hour, a day, a week. It might surprise you how much more productive you can be without that distraction.

It’s Your Creativity, Do it Your Way

We romanticize what being creative means. As if being creative comes from Hollywood, we think of creativity as breakthrough ideas, blockbuster movies, and Pulitzer Prize work. By doing that, we rob ourselves of the joy of smaller creative moments. 

Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.

Thomas Edison

Want to read more about improving your creativity skills? Read Your Enthusiastic Chaos is the First Step.

It’s your story. You have the power to change your beliefs, to be creative. Make a time and place to think about creativity. Appreciate the skills you’ve got and the ones you learn. Improve your skills. Observe. Practice. Dream. Do it the only right way — your way.

What is one misbelief you have or have had? What will you do to overcome it or if you’ve beat it, how did you do that?  

Image Credits

First image by elkimmelito from Pixabay 

Second image by John Hain from Pixabay 

Twelve Ways to Spark Your Creativity in the Mundane Moments

Image of white line drawings of light bulbs  on multiple squares of blue paper in random orientations.

The repetition common in everyday lives, housework, and jobs can make us feel uncreative. Yet, humans have an inborn survival instinct to expect and solve problems. This makes each and everyone of us creative. We lose touch with our creativity when we “go through the motions.” But you can reconnect with your creativity. Here are twelve ways to spark your creativity.

1. Embrace the Mess

When you think your life is a mess (confession, that’s most the time for me) sit in the mess. Embrace the moment. Sifting through your things or thoughts can help you see things differently. Be open to a different way of thinking or a change in where you place things. 

2. Reconnect to Your Body

Often when we’re stuck, we become physically stuck, too. Our body tenses. We take more shallow breaths. Reconnecting with our body will not only relax your body, but it relaxes your mind, too.


Take a breath in through your nose for the count of three. Exhale for a count of three. Repeat 5-10 times.


Tighten and relax muscle groups one at a time. For example, curl your toes. Hold the curl for the count of three, then relax them. Next, tighten your calf muscles for the count of three. Then relax your calves. Continue with your thighs, your buttocks, your stomach, and so on.

Connect with Feel

Feel the fabric of your clothes. Notice the smoothness or roughness. How do your fingertips feel? Compare that sensation to the feel of the surface upon which you are sitting or standing.

Notice the weight of your body, the temperature of the air.

Connect with Taste

Photo of a bunch of white flowers and a bunch of pink flowers with three bottles of perfume standing behind the flowers.

Taste something sweet or something sour. Taste something new. What happens in your mouth, your stomach, your brain?

Connect with Scent

Sniff favorite scents. Try spices or fruits or perfumes. Does that smell remind you of something? How does it make you feel?

These exercises may feel awkward at first. That’s okay. It may take a while to reconnect with your body if you aren’t normally. Notice what’s happening. Where do you feel the awkwardness?

Remember, there’s no right or wrong in doing these exercises. As long as you connect with some or all of your body, you’re doing fine.

3. Stay Curious 

Marvel at the world around you. If you don’t know the answer to a question, look it up. Follow the rabbit hole you find most fascinating. Ask more questions. Why does this one interest you? How could you use this in your daily life? How do you wish you could use it?

4. Change Your Perspective

One of the best ways to spark creativity in mundane moments is to change your perspective. Instead of seeing the task at hand as boring, try to approach it with a fresh perspective. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” or “How can I do this differently?” This shift in perspective can help you see things in a new light.


Stuck in traffic? Instead of getting frustrated, look at it as an opportunity. Pay attention to the people, buildings, and scenery around you. Perhaps you mix this with the color walk idea further down in this post. Or you look for absurdities. 

Or take a different path, literally. If you always drive (or walk) home via the same route, take a different one. What do you see that is different? What do you want to see more of? Or not see? What would surprise you the most surprised?

5. Notice Color

Take a color walk (inside or out). Choose a color to notice. Even if you choose something that will be everywhere, notice the shades of green or blue on your walk. How many unique objects can you find that color — shoes, cars, houses, flowers, fences, scarves, etc. What would you think would never be that color? Can you find it? Focusing on color allows your subconscious to work on your problem. Sometimes, color sparks ideas that will excite you.

6. Daydream

Repetition and mindless but necessary task can be boring. View those moments as opportunities to daydream. Let your mind wander. (Remember to stay safe while daydreaming!)

Allow your thoughts to meander. Let your subconscious make connections. Sometimes the break from “worrying” allows you to see a creative solution.

Or you could choose to “direct” your daydreams. Explore absurd or expensive or impossible solutions. Follow those ideas to the extreme. The creative solutions that pop into your head might surprise you.

7. Listen to Music

If you follow this blog, you know I listen to instrumental music as I work. Music is a powerful tool for sparking creativity. It can help you relax, focus, and get into the zone. Choose music that inspires you, energizes you, sets the mood, or otherwise gets your creative juices flowing.

If you are doing a repetitive task like folding laundry, put on some music that you can’t help but sing along. Or you can put on music and allow your mind to daydream about a scene to fit the music. Music can help make your mundane tasks more enjoyable and also spark your creativity.

8. Get up and Move

Take a walk outside. Your mother was right. You need fresh air and sunshine. Even once around the block will give you a break. 

If the weather isn’t favorable, try a brisk walk around the house, on the treadmill, or up and down the stairs. Turn on your favorite dance music and move. Moving often is critical for maintaining good health. 

The air, the weather, and the act of moving all act to lower your blood pressure and relax you. That may be all your creativity needs as a (maybe literal) jump start.

9. Create a Ritual

Photo of a woman standing in a wooded area with her eyes closed while drumming on a hand-held drum.

A ritual is a habitual observance or action(s) that is repeated. A ritual done every day, or every time you wish to be creative, helps signal your brain that this is the time to be creative. It elevates creativity as something important to you. After a time, you may find you don’t need the ritual any longer. Or you may choose to continue your ritual as a way of easing from your mundane world to your creative one.

Your ritual can be as simple as listening to the same music on a loop or lighting the same candle each time you sit down to create. 

The following can be components of your ritual. Try to include the first three at a minimum. The rest you can use or not. Do what makes it feel like a powerful ritual to you.

Choose an Environment 

What space will work best with your ritual? Your office? Garage? Kitchen? Studio? Be certain the space reflects the energy level you seek. Avoid distractions.

Set an Intention

How do you want to show up? What is the tone you’re trying to create? Example: For an energetic tone, you might choose to play music that makes you want to move. For wisdom or thoughtful tone, you might choose to burn a scented candle representing wisdom (sage or aged cedar or whatever represents wisdom to you).

Be Present

Most of the day, we are only partly present. Doing dishes (and most other mundane tasks) our thoughts wander. Focus on your intent and your desired outcome of this ritual. Perhaps you chant something like, “I am open to new and creative ideas.” 

Be Appreciative 

We often take things for granted. Take this moment, this ritual time, to appreciate life, the world, others, and yourself.


Make space for thinking about why this ritual is important to you. What is it you aspire to? What about this makes you afraid? What does the success of this ritual look like to you at this moment? 


Ritual is a way to connect to your aspirations. Who do you want to be? How do you want to serve others with this aspiration? What shift in yourself will help you do this?

Lift to Sacredness

Can you see this ritual as something sacred? Sacred doesn’t have to mean religious or holy. It means to consecrate or dedicate. It’s something that you are giving power. 

Close in Gratitude

Give thanks for what the ritual gives you. Express gratitude for all the parts, for you showing up to do the ritual, to those in your life willing to make space for you, and to the world.

10. Sleep & Dream

Get more sleep. Before you go to sleep, ask your dream self to solve a problem or answer your question. When you wake, jot down everything and anything you remember from your dreams. Or write a paragraph about your problem or question immediately after rising, before you do anything else. Sometimes our subconscious works better when we aren’t thinking about the problem.

Have you used any of these methods to spark creativity? Please share a method that works for you.

11. Collaborate with Others

You’ve probably seen a post on social media where someone asks “the hive mind” a question. You can do that too. Ask for creative solutions to the problem you’re facing. Or if you are stuck on a project at work, reach out to a colleague and see if they can help you brainstorm some ideas. It might be a single conversation or many conversations.

Or you may choose to work on your project as a team. Working with others can help you come up with a solution that you might not have thought of on your own. Or again, it can trigger an idea of yours that you would not have thought of without the clue from someone else.

12. Embrace Imperfection

Photo of a white table with red, blue, green, and yellow paint splashes everywhere

Perfectionism can kill creativity. Allow yourself to take risks and make mistakes. You never know when a mistake or a risk will free up your creativity.

Try setting a timer for ten minutes and allow yourself to create without judgment. Don’t worry about making mistakes or getting it perfect. Just create and see what comes out.

All It Takes is a Spark

You don’t have to try all these methods. But you don’t have to feel stuck or uncreative, either. Try one method at a time until you find what works for you.

What do you do to spark your creativity?

Image Credits

Top image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Second image photo by petr sidorov on Unsplash

Last image photo by Ricardo Viana on Unsplash


Definition of Mundane

5 Ways to Boost Your Creativity with Color Walks

Definition of Ritual

The Art of Creating a Ritual for What Matters Most

Five Mundane Ways to Explode Your Creativity

Ten Ways to Find Creativity in Your Normal Routine