"Self-discipline without talent can often achieve astounding results, whereas talent without self-discipline inevitably dooms itself to failure." Sydney Harris

Three Myths About Creativity
© 2000 Nita Leland

Most everyone agrees that creativity is a good thing to have, but everyone seems to have a different opinion on what creativity is and who has it. According to one dictionary, creativity is the ability to create and is characterized by originality and expressiveness. Pretty generic, but functional, so let's move on to what I call "three myths of creativity."

  1. Creativity is a gift possessed by a chosen few.
    Personally, I don't believe this. I'm convinced that creativity is something every normal human being is born with, something along the lines of Deepak Chopra's "pure potentiality." Each of us born with a clean slate and the potential to develop into a creative being. You make creative choices every day, and by using a little imagination you can stimulate your own creativity every time you decide what to wear, what to fix for dinner, or how to plant a flower bed. Creativity doesn't pertain only to artists.
  2. Creativity requires talent, and if you don't have it, forget it.
    Talent has two definitions--a natural ability or a developed skill. The natural ability may be a physical trait that lends itself to easy accomplishment; the skill may be developed because of exposure at an early age. Either way, there is nothing to prevent an average person from developing creative skills to a high degree. Art involves mastery of skills, which comes from practice, and knowledge, which comes from study. Once you have skills and knowledge, you're free to be more spontaneous and creative.
  3. Creativity starts in childhood, and if you didn't begin then, it's too late.
    Not true. Unfortunately, there are many impediments to creativity in early life, from parental disapproval to criticism in school. Children are easily discouraged or diverted into other activities. It may be a matter of individual circumstances, where one has to sacrifice creative art for a regular paycheck. One of my students started painting in watercolor in her early 70s. She worked hard at it and persisted in spite of serious health problems and the death of her husband. At the age of 91 she still paints every day--and has a show each year, selling just about everything she paints.

I believe creativity is a choice. You can be just about anything you decide to be, if you work hard enough for it.

It's never too late to create.

For more motivational ideas read The New Creative Artist.

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