Creativity Stereotypes - Are They Holding You Back?
Here's a quick quiz:
1) When I see a see a sunrise, I'm moved to:
A. Compose a poem.
B. Try and capture the beauty with my paints and brush.
C. Stumble drunkenly into bed -- boy that party was a lot of fun.
D. Cover my face with my pillow and go back to sleep. Who in their right mind gets up early enough to look at sunrises?
2) At work, I'm the person my coworkers go to when they need someone to:
A. Think up a new theme for the office party (especially if they want it to be a bit wild and off the wall).
B. Get people excited for the party.
C. Organize the party.
D. Clean up after the party.
3) In school, I was considered one of the:
D. Nothing. I was kicked out my sophomore year.
Now take this test again and write down what you think a creative person would choose as his or her answer.
Scoring: Well, there's no real scoring here. The point is to get you thinking about creativity and stereotypes.
In another creativity article I wrote, "Quiz: Are Your Creative?", I pointed out that the biggest difference between creative people and those who aren't is creative people believe they're creative and uncreative people believe they aren't.
But, it's one thing to say it and something completely different to live it.
I believe one of the things that prevent people from fully realizing their creative potential is the idea of stereotypes. They think they cannot be creative because they don't look, act, live, etc., a certain way. And, unfortunately, that belief can become so powerful it truly does cripple their creativity.
Let's take a closer look at these three stereotypes.
1) When I see a sunrise?
You can still be a creative person and not be moved to paint a sunrise or write a poem about it. Everyone is different and everyone draws their creativity from different things. Me, you couldn't catch me anywhere near a sunrise without an IV drip of coffee in my arm. And even if that did happen, I'd be lucky if I could reach the creativity level of a turnip.
The point is every muse is different and every muse dances to a different drum (or maybe it's not even a drum, maybe it's a French horn.) Sunrises make you yawn? So what? Find what gets your muse dancing and go with it.
2) At work?
You don't have to act like a Bohemian to be creative. In fact, that image of a black-clad, beret-wearing, long-cigarette-smoking Artiste has been the bane of many would-be artists. I can't tell you how many people I've run into who don't have time to BE creative because they're too busy trying to LOOK creative.
Creativity comes in many shapes and sizes. It also dresses in a variety of outfits -- from t-shirts and paint-splatted jeans to suits and ties to cocktail dresses to, yes, the all-black look.
Don't worry about how your creativity relates to how you look or act. There's no correlation between the two.
3) In school?
Again, there are no studies linking creativity to getting bad grades or being a social misfit. Creativity is just as likely to have been class president as it was to have been caught smoking in the bathroom. Or kicked out of school altogether. (Now, whether those schoolyard memories are fodder for creative pursuits is a topic for another day.)
Basically it comes down to this -- creativity doesn't fit into any neat box. Whether that box may be unconventional or conservative. Whether it's covered with clay and furiously spinning pots or impeccably dressed and churning out million-dollar deals. Whether it's dressed in black and discussing Satre in a coffee shop or pushing a stroller in small-town America.
Creativity is just that. Creative. It doesn't care what package it comes in.
It only cares that you use it.
Creativity Exercise -- Take Away The Power of Stereotypes
Go back to the quiz. Look at the answers you chose for yourself. (If one of my answers didn't fit -- which is entirely possible -- turn your answer into fill-in-the-blank.) Look at the answer you instinctively felt a creative person would have selected. I'm going after instinct here -- don't worry about what you read in the article. Or go back and see how you answered before you read the article.
Do you have two different answers? Describe what makes the answers different and why.
Do you describe yourself in completely opposite terms as you would someone creative? Why is that? Do some journaling on the answer.
Now try describing yourself again and this time add the statement "and that makes me creative" or "yet I still am creative" at the end. For instance: "I hate sunrises and that makes me creative. I was a model student yet still I am creative." Write these out ten times each day until you begin to believe it.
(Source: Freeing Your Creativity: A Writer's Guide by Marshall Cook)
Michele Pariza Wacek is the author of "Got Ideas? Unleash Your Creativity and Make More Money." She offers two free e-zines that help subscribers combine their creativity with hard-hitting marketing and copywriting principles to become more successful at attracting new clients, selling products and services and boosting business. She can be reached at http://www.TheArtistSoul.com.
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