A Twitter follower insisted that she was not creative. It wasn’t an easy task to convince her, within the parameters of only 140 characters, that her notion was a myth. What’s worse, I’ve heard a lot of people expressing similar beliefs which are damaging to the creative process. Here are the top 10 common myths about creativity:
1. Only “creative types” are creative
Great ideas are often built on common concepts, by ordinary people. Creativity is usually triggered by a need and depends on number of factors, including knowledge, talent, imagination, lateral thinking and internal motivation. Creating potential can be found in every person; you only need to remove the barriers that block it.
2. Money motivates creativity
People don’t think about pay on a day-to-day basis. If they think about being rewarded for everything they do, they become reluctant of taking risks. After understanding that they are being paid fairly, people don’t become more creative when the compensation is increased. People stretch their skills and make the creative leap when they engage in a creative environment, when their work is valued and supported, and when they are deeply involved in their work.
3. Creative people always have great ideas
Creative people usually have many creative ideas but only a few that are worth pursuing. These few precious gems are worth the effort to to keep generating new ideas. However without the barrel full of ordinary ideas, the great ones may never be born. Creative people don’t always have good ideas; we tend to forget the mediocre ones and, often because we’re using them, remember the great ideas.
4. Time pressure drives creativity
While time pressure may force you to engage in the creative process, the results are usually less productive than when there is enough time for great ideas to sprout and develop through the incubation process. When you’re stressing out about time, the mind cannot fully focus on the work and it wanders and worries about fighting the clock.
5. Structure is bad for creative thinking
Understanding that creativity has limitless possibilities does not mean that there are no boundaries. Even a blank canvas has set dimensions, which surely does not limit the artist’s potential or creativity. Limitations shape the creative process – in a good way. Structure guides the creative activity to ensure that its form and meaning are not lost in the process.
6. Competition is better than collaboration
If the method of competing with others for creative ideas sometimes works, it works for all the wrong reasons. A competitive environment prevents people of sharing ideas and they cannot be refined and enriched by others. Collaboration adds the benefit of multiple perspectives and additional information that can enrich even the best ideas.
7. I’ll never forget my ideas
It’s potentially possible. But it’s highly improbable. During our busy days, when we’re bombarded with information from all sides and so many things are happening at once, it is difficult to hold on to a single unaltered thought. Relying on your memory is not the best approach. Capture your ideas as soon as you can. You’ll free your mind of worrying that you may forget them and you’ll always have a good reserve of ideas. Notebook anyone? Or better yet, Smartphone?
8. Drugs will make me more creative
This myth probably started in the 1960s when some artists and musicians joined the underground drug culture in an age of absolute prohibition. Though many celebrities, past and present, indulge in a multitude of different substances, the effects differ per individual and can be dangerous, even to the creative process. Drugs and alcohol may silence your internal critic, make you more acceptable to your work, or make you believe that your ideas are more creative or plausible. For the rest of the world however, you might just look high.
9. Great ideas appear fully developed
Ideation is a process. While we may have experienced some a-ha! moments, they are usually led by inspiration and exploration within a certain field. As our knowledge grows, our ideas morph into a more refined form. When we think that we’re onto something, we start examining the idea from different perspectives. We may discover new options and possibilities, and the final result may look nothing like the original concept.
10. Technology will help me get better ideas
Facebook, Twitter, iAnything, GPS, Google, you-name-it… our day to day tasks become more and more interconnected with technology. Some people relate technology with creativity because it seems to be the field of never-ending innovation blossoms. There are many programs and tools that can enable us to easily express our creativity; however, they are not going to make us more creative in general. Taking a break from technology and changing your environment, on the other hand, can.
What other creativity myths are hindering our creativity?
You have the creative spark in you. Go and create something.
*Image by Daniel Quiñones