If there’s one word I encounter over and over, it’s creativity. On Instagram, we’ve all spoken about what makes us creative or how we’re trying to be more so. We even say that Instagram itself is a platform for creatives, and we sprinkle the word throughout our CVs and LinkedIn profiles like #saltbae.
At the agency where I work, we’re currently hiring, and when we were going over the ad and what we’re looking for, we agreed that we wanted someone who can think out of the box – a creative.
But what does that mean? What is a creative?
I personally think that we all stereotype creative people in one way or another. For me, it’s usually someone sat in a coffee shop typing away on their Macbooks, or scribbling in their notebooks or drawing in haphazard sketchpads, all while sipping coffee. When I see that person, I feel a sense of longing – I want to be as creative as they are. Which is stupid because, as a writer, I’m creative.
But I still doubt myself. My job has creative elements to it, and I aspire to live a creative life, but there are days when I feel like I don’t do enough to fit into that category – the elitist club of creatives. They’re the ones who publish blog posts every week, write at least 1,000 words every day (or whatever the equivalent is for non-writers) and have thousands of followers across their social accounts because their content, according to the comments they receive, is ‘creative.’
We all know that creative because we aspire to be like them. We put them on a pedestal, asking them to share their secrets to success: “How do you motivate yourself?” “How do you come with ideas like that?” “How do you write a novel?”
But the problem with these questions is that, while it’s great to see everyone inspiring each other, it can segregate these people into, as I said earlier, the elitist creative club. As if they’re the only people who have ideas ever while the rest of us have none at all. Only the chosen few have creative minds while the rest of us trail behind, never coming up with anything innovative, like someone compiled terms, conditions, copyright, and God knows what else for the whole thing.
But everyone has ideas. Anyone can come up with an idea about anything – it’s not just limited to writers, musicians, artists, and any other kind of content creator, right?
Let’s take a step back and look at the definition of the term ‘creativity:’
“the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness. “
and according to my Collins dictionary:
“make, cause to exist…imaginative and inventive”
‘Make’ is the keyword here. We’re all capable of making something – it’s practically ingrained in our species. So why do we talk about creatives like they’re a superior breed?
It may relate to the developments in our world right now, and the need to prove ourselves in our working lives. An example of this is the growth of artificial intelligence, how the world is becoming more and more automated. Tech Crunch stated that:
“In a time of high unemployment, when traditional skills can be sourced or automated, creative skills remain highly sought after and highly valuable.”
The segregation is clear as day in this statement, as the word ‘valuable’ rings louder than any other in the sentence.
But then, if we’re all creative, how can some creatives be more valuable than others? Are their ideas better than most?
Not necessarily – we’re all capable of coming up with all sorts of ideas, good and bad. I think that some ideas are valued more than others, which is wrong. What makes an idea valuable anyway?
I believe that it’s not the idea itself that’s valuable – it’s the fact that it’s put into action. Does that mean the idea is good? Not always, but you’re not really going to know that until you’ve tried it out.
And maybe that’s where the elitist club comes from; they’re the ones who are confident enough to try out their ideas, and that’s why they’re admired so much. They see the value of their own ideas – they hype themselves up.
Words have a huge influence over us. If we tell ourselves that our ideas aren’t valuable, that they’re not good because we’re not creative enough, then we’re going to believe it and are then less likely to put any idea into action.
So, while there’s no routine, formula, or magic spell, it’s clear to see that there is a small difference between being creative and being a creative. It’s nothing more than confidence. Not necessarily the confidence in the work you’re producing, because we all have moments of self-doubt, but confident that your ideas are worth trying.
So next time I see someone in the coffee shop typing furiously on their Mac, I’m going to remind myself that I too am that person. I also have an idea to play around with, and I’m brave enough to do it.
And I hope you remind yourself of the same thing.