Last week someone asked me if a person can learn to be creative. I believe we are born creative. From a theological perspective, if we are created in God’s image, as the Bible contends, then we are creative because God creates. That’s my short version.
From a non-theological perspective, give little kids some dolls, trucks, boxes, and rocks and watch what they do with them. Even babies are creative. When one drops food from its highchair, the kid isn’t doing it for meanness. He or she is figuring out what happens when food falls to the floor. I call that creative.
The problem is that the world works hard to socialize the creativity out of us as we grow up. We’re taught that conformity is good and independent thoughts or actions are bad. Coloring outside the lines is bad. Coloring the sky blue is good. e.e. cummings, the poet is good. Writing everything in lower case is bad.
How often did we try something new, only to be told, “You’ll never be good at that,” because our first attempt was clumsy. According to the article that prompted the discussion on creativity, proficiency takes ten thousand hours of practice. A thirty second or twenty minute attempt is a long way from proficiency.
Julia Cameron wrote The Artist’s Way, a wonderful book about recovering our creativity. She says we have to find positive affirmations to counter the negative messages that keep us blocked. Recovery can’t be fast-tracked, but it is possible. In an age when communication around the world is instantaneous, we aren’t accustomed to slowing down our lives and listening to ourselves. And we have to learn to play. I hear the box of Legos on the closet shelf calling me.