Tuesday, 15 July 2014

I'm not a genius (and I'm not the only one)

I love a creative outlet. I love to create something, step back and gaze lovingly at it and think "I made that!" Something I struggle with though, is that I feel like I'm not very 'creative'. I love to create, but I have a hard time coming up with original ideas from the primordial ooze that is my very own brain. I am excellent at following a pattern or recipe or online tutorial (I can read and follow directions well). I'm even pretty good at tweeking a pattern or recipe or online tutorial to make it a little more my own. But when it comes to being 'original', that's where I struggle.

I can argue that creativity is learned. There have been studies done with children where they give them blocks to play with, with the instructions to make patterns or designs with them. One group of children is rewarded for making designs that are all similar and along one design esthetic. Those children continue to put out designs that are all similar. The other group is rewarded for making new designs that hadn't been seen before, and are given no reward for repetition. Those children produce more and more creative designs. 

I can also argue that creativity (or lack thereof) is related to fear. Fear of failure holds you back from trying something new, and so you stick with the easy out, the tried and true, the thing you know you will succeed with. When one can get over that fear and just try, more creative ideas and products may stem from the attempts. I'm gonna say that creativity is 99% failure, and 1% sheer and wild success. And while the failures are disappointing, the successes are so rewarding it makes it all worth it. 

So why am I postulating about creativity? I was reading some blogs last night, and I came across an older entry from Rossie Hutchison about quilting and bloggers (read the post here). She argues that more bloggers should move away from the 'here's what I just finished and a brief synopsis of how I did it' model of blogging, and move to a more dynamic story of our works in progress and how they come to be. In her post, she quotes Phillipe Starck on creativity: "Nobody is obliged to be a genius, but everybody is obliged to participate." Also, that we are steps in the evolutionary chain, and that we are different from what came before, and will be different from what comes after. We are mutants, but not the final mutant. This really resonated with me. To me, this really frees me up from my mind, because no one is saying I have to be the be-all and end-all of creative design, that if I'm not making something new, I'm nothing. I can just be a step in the evolutionary chain. 

I'm sometimes embarrassed of my projects, because, while I made them, I didn't necessarily 'create' them. But I shouldn't feel that way!! Creativity flows best when it isn't bogged down by fear, and when it is rewarded. I'm releasing myself from the pressure to perform, and allowing myself to just be: be creative, be a copycat, be whatever I need to be in that moment. And if I learned something new from a pattern or tutorial, or added a detail to make it more my own, that is a step towards 'true' creativity. In other words, I'm regarding myself as a creativity beginner, not an expert. I will have 99 failures before I have a huge success. And that is okay. 


Sometimes you copy something
Sometimes you fail
Sometimes you feel pretty darn good about what you made