What does it mean to be a creator? What does it feel like? How do you think like a creator, and create something out of nothing? There are attributes of a creator that can be mirrored, and reproduced. How you become a creator, think like a creator and create something out of nothing will be easier for some and harder for others. However, if it is hard for you, just stick with it, and soon creations will flow from your fingertips.
I know that most of those reading my blog are creators in their own right, most are bloggers themselves and I have read some beautiful poetry and read some mighty fine posts. However, I know that there are some, and I am speaking personally now, that struggle with creation and sit with a blank screen or blank canvas and wonder what will appear.
There are attributes that a creator has, attributes we all can have if we want them: however, we must want them. Here are some attributes you can mirror: Inquisitive, future focused, OODA loop, accepting failure, network and generosity.
Creators are curious, they love to have clarification of the world around them and they love to get answers they might not have had or thought of before.
Asking questions might not seem important, in fact, for a 5th decader like me, it seems almost inane. However, if you think about it, an inquisitive mind does learn more than an non-inquisitive mind. We are never too old to ask questions. I have read that a five year old will ask about 100 questions a day. If you have ever lived with a five year old – that seems like an underestimation. However, their curiosity is what helps them learn, adapt and create in the world they live in.
I live with two grandchildren. Both are under 6 years old. They are the most inquisitive little people I have ever met, and they keep me on my toes. They are also very creative, and their creativity is shown not only through art, but through their play. It is fantastic to me to hear the stories they tell to eachother, and watch them paint what they see in their world.
In contrast an adult over the age of 40 only asks about three questions a day. For me that would be: ”Has anyone seen my phone?” “Can’t you people turn off the lights when you leave a room?” and “Were you born in a barn or something? Close the door!”
All joking aside, we – who are over 40 – need to become more inquisitive. We need to look at the world without our own prejudices, with a pair of fresh eyes. We need to ask more open-ended questions and not just settle for a yes and no.
Future focused people, don’t focus on the past. They don’t let past performances or failures hold them down. They are looking forward to new experiences. They have a blank canvas in front of them, but they don’t see just cotton or linen, they see a beautiful masterpiece waiting to be created.
The other thing with future focused people is that the issues and problems of today don’t weigh them down either. As I have indicated before, I had another blog years ago, but I used to let my current situations drag me down, like an anchor. I didn’t realize how truly boring I was. I was told that I was a good writer, but looking back – I see that I was too whiny.
“But wait Thom, you just looked back – are you not as creative as you hope to be?” Future focused people do draw on the past, but it is not a focus. In a lot of my posts, I will draw on my past as an anecdote, nothing more. I have had to bury my bad feelings about my past, and that has freed up my future and my creative thinking.
I have an entire article on OODA loop, and so I will not rehash – too much – what OODA loop is, however I will touch on how this can help creative people. If you want to read my article on OODA, here is the address: https://thecongenialmale.com/2021/01/15/ooda/
OODA is a great formula for a creative mind as well as a military strategist. Let me explain:
In the Observe part of the loop – a creative person will look around, they will see new things and items of interest. They will listen and allow their creative mind to grab ahold of the smallest fragment to create from.
Orient – They will analyze and synthesize new information. They will draw on previous experiences for creation. They will use their past experiences and cultural bias to make sense of what they have observed. We cannot dismiss our cultural bias, even if that cultural bias is not politically acceptable – that bias does make up our past. We don’t have to create per our bias, but our bias will help us understand what we observe.
Decide – Once the creative person has made an observation and synthesized that information, now they can decide how best to use that information, or even if they are going to use this information at all. Once they have a clear path and decide on the information they have gathered, it is time to…
Act. The creative person will now, at this stage, put their heart into what they are creating. They will put pen to paper, brush to canvas, chisel to stone; They will create.
“Never get discouraged if you fail. Learn from it. Keep trying.”Thomas Edison, https://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/37-quotes-from-thomas-edison-that-will-bring-out-your-best.htm, 1/29/2021
Accepting failure is part of creativity. Most failures are just a way of learning. I used to tell my children, “The only time it is alright to fail, is if you learn from your mistake, if you haven’t learned, then it was a waste of time.” I genuinely believe that. I suppose I was saying what Thomas Edison was saying, only with my own spin.
However, where people get stuck is that they give up after failing. They say that they just can’t do it, it is impossible and they don’t want to do that anymore. However, creative people think that it seems impossible, but maybe they should try a different approach. In fact, the only mistake that you cannot learn from, is the one that takes your life – sorry for being so morbid, but I could hear the questions from the audience.
Failure is inevitable – There are few people that succeed the first time when trying something new. However, when creative people try something and fail, they try again and again until it is successful. Creative people find new ways to do things, new ways to express their creativity and when they succeed, they practice and practice their new way of doing things, until it is so second nature – it looks effortless.
Networking and Collaboration
Creative people like to be around other creative people. They can really excite each other.
Look at Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Godwin – became Mary Shelley after marrying Percy – and Claire Clairmont – All were literary geniuses. They collaborated – they networked. John Lennon and Paul McCartney collaborated. Both sets of collaborations created some very memorable works.
There is one networking story in history that really hits the nail on the head: That is the networking of Ernest Hemingway – a young writer from Chicago that was given the advice to move to Paris and join a writing community. He met James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald as well as many others.
The fact is that creativity feeds off of creativity. If you are creative and you aren’t networking, then you are stifling your own creativity. Sometimes – in this digital age – we can only network and collaborate online, but that is better than nothing.
This is where I ask each of you for $1000 dollars to prove to me that you are generous… Not really, because generosity goes further than just money. Yes sometimes we are called to be generous with our money, but what about time, intellectual property and expertise.
As noted above Ernest Hemingway moved to Paris, but it would have been useless if he would not have been helped along the way by the generosity of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who introduced him to Scribner. Scribner was a publisher that published Ernest Hemingway’s novels.
Whatever you give, no matter how small, will act like ripples in a pond and move out from the center: genersity works like that. I have had people be generous to me many times, in fact the machine I write on was given to me.
So creative people are creative because of certain attributes and characteristics. I believe everyone is born creative, even if their creativity looks like just a banana taped to a canvas. We cannot judge someone else’s creativity; sometimes it is not even fair to judge our own creativity. However, we can learn and adopt a creative attitude and creative attributes.