Like many writers, I have a sort of spooky feeling that if I start dissecting the creative process to see what makes it hop, I may very well end up with a dead frog.–Katherine Patterson
Creativity is an elusive concept. I want to know more about it, but like Katherine Patterson, sometimes I feel that if I look at it too closely, it may disappear entirely, or turn into a “dead frog.” Other times, I feel like my creativity has simply hopped away. I want other people to see me as creative, but what does that really mean? Is writing a poem creative? Is cooking dinner creative? Does singing in the shower make me creative?
I guess the answer is really both yes and no. There are creative ways to approach even the most everyday task, and there are conventional ways to perform even the most “artistic” or “creative” activity. Creativity is a matter of attitude. Are you willing to take risks? Do you look for novel ways to use everyday objects and complete routine tasks? Congratulations, you’re probably creative!
Creativity can be a frightening thing to claim for yourself. What if other people don’t think your work is creative? Or worse, what if they misunderstand what you’re attempting to achieve or are frightened by the questions you ask? According to Vinita Hampton Wright in the book Soul Tells a Story, creativity involves a loss of control:
Not only do you lose control when you enter the creative process, you lose control once others have witnessed your work. Their perceptions of it–and reactions to it–will happen completely outside your realm.
Giving up control is scary, but to be creative you have to be willing to let go. You have to be able to say to yourself, “I don’t know where this story/essay/poem is going, but I’m going to write it anyway.”
You need to be willing to ask questions, to push boundaries, and to make mistakes. Living a creative life doesn’t mean that you are going to create something beautiful every time. It simply means that you are willing to explore the possibilities.