There is an endless amount of ways to be creative. Take an abstract concept, such as drawing what love looks like– and will you say it’s not possible to paint a picture of it, or do you think of five different images right away? There’s no need to beat yourself up if the former. However, it’s good to be aware of creativity killers so you can stop them in their tracks when starting a new project.
“Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein
Logic may be practical but it certainly is limiting. In order to be creative, you have to blow the roof off of logic to discover the depths of what’s hidden underneath. If logic is your constraint, try stepping out of your comfort zone to think in a new way. Do something bold. Go experience something you’ve never done before. Try an outsider’s perspective. Experience feeds creativity—adhering to what’s the norm does not.
Perfectionism is the pest that will always hold you back. It holds you back from challenging yourself or adapting to new ideas. It encourages procrastination and self-doubt. Re-think the ways in which you need to be perfect – is this necessary? No one person or thing is perfect in nature, so why does your project have to be?
3. Following Rules
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Pablo Picasso
Rules can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s nice to have parameters such as dimension, theme, or colors to work with. However, when you let rules take over, you kill your innate creativity. The best way to increase your creativity is to begin your work by following standards and rules. Then, when you feel they are no longer helping you, break them. Only by doing so can you produce artwork.
This one may seem odd – but think of all the greats in their solitude, such as Emily Dickinson. You can’t hear your own creativity when everyone else is talking (or when everyone else is feeding you their opinions).
According to Graham Wallas, the author of The Art of Thought, the creative process involves four steps:
- Preparation: the investigation of a creative problem,
- Incubation: unconscious processing of the problem,
- Illumination: the “Eureka!” moment,
Verification: our unique insight is verified by others.
Incubation is crucial to creativity. Solitude gives us a blank canvas to create from.
Piggy backing off the blank canvas theme, creating more space in your outer world creates more space in your inner one, or so articles tell you. And sometimes this is true. However, when most people think of a creative person, they think of paintbrushes everywhere, papers piled up and dust on the bookshelf. Einstein for example, was highly creative, and you can guess what his office looked like (it was a mess). If you’re a messy person, embrace it and stop beating yourself up for it as a creative.
Technology brings many great advantages and streamlines much in our lives, but it’s also highly addictive and distracting. How can you focus when Netflix is only a click away? There’s a never-ending scroll on your newsfeed, and you spend hours comparing your work to someone else’s online. According to research, technology inhibits creativity because it takes time away from other types of activities such as reading, playing an instrument or painting. Turn off the computer and go outside for inspiration. And when working, only have that project open.
7. Lack of Resourcefulness
“It’s not the lack of resources, it’s your lack of resourcefulness that stops you.” – Tony Robbins
If you want to be a writer, you need a good laptop and notebooks. If you want to be a painter, you need good paint and brushes. If you want to be a musician, you need to have your instrument of choice ready. Obvious, right? A creative needs his or her tools to actually do the work. And although time or money could be what’s holding you back, eventually you must make sacrifices for what you truly want to make time for.
Failing once and giving up will definitely keep you from becoming successful in your creative craft. Optimists are more likely to keep on gambling after losing money because they don’t blame themselves as much as pessimists do. Let failure encourage you to keep going, and take what you learned and apply it to the next go-around. Being a creative means you need to have thick skin – failure is bound to happen more than once.
Do you know why children are highly creative? Because they desire to know everything, question rules and standards, and want to experience life fully while constantly remaining curious. Many artists, scientists and doctors agree that curiosity fuels creativity. If you’re not curious, you may not have enough motivation to pursue success or career and you may not be able to trust your own inner instinct. Observe your environment, ask questions and pave a new way.
10. Lack of Time
“It’s not about having time, it’s about making time.” – Unknown
Everyone is busy. But it’s up to you what you choose to carve out time for. If you keep saying you want to play the guitar, but never practice, then obviously you’re never going to get better. The same applies to any creative endeavor. Make your creative craft your priority, and carve out some time everyday to work on it, even if you only have 10 or 20 minutes.
11. Comparing Yourself to Others
“The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.” – Unknown
Joshua Becker, a founder of Becoming Minimalist makes very interesting points about comparing yourself to others. He reminds us that:
- Comparisons are unfair (we’re often beginners and tend to compare ourselves to experts),
- Comparisons require metrics (only a fool believes everything can be measured),
- Comparisons put focus on the wrong individual (you should focus on yourself instead of the lives of others).
Comparison is the death of creativity. Every person was given a gift to express it in only the way that he or she is meant to. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Stick to your own self and stop torturing yourself by worrying about what others are doing.
12. Doing What You Hate
“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius
Creativity requires passion, inspiration and numerous hours spent on a project – do you think this will be successful at a job you hate? Probably not. Most artists admit they are highly creative when they’re in the zone, when time collapses and they forget about the world around them. Then, they produce artwork. Thus, don’t complain you’re not creative if you are doing things you hate. Find time for what makes you light up.
13. Fear of Failure
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
Think about Stephen King and his first novel, Carrie. Did you know that 30 publishers rejected it? Did Stephen King give up on writing, then? No, he didn’t. He kept on writing because that was what he loved. Eventually, he became successful.
If fear of failure is holding you back, stop asking yourself what will happen if you fail. Instead, ask yourself, what if you succeed? Remember, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
14. Fear of Criticism
Every musician, writer, painter, etc. is in the spotlight by putting his or her work out there for the world to see. Naturally, not everyone will like it. First, you must embrace the fact that you will be criticized, even if you produced amazing work. Second, not every criticism is bad. Some people, when they assess your work, point our your mistakes so that you don’t repeat them in your future work, and may want to help you.
15. Fear of Taking Risks
Being an artist means being a risk-taker, unless you’re simply copying someone else’s work. In order to be successful, you must stick it out by doing your own thing. Bringing your gifts to the world is by nature, risky. You must embrace that the fear of risk taking never goes away, but you must feel it and do it anyway. Artists know that by risk taking they can lose a lot, but also gain a lot. Their desire to succeed is stronger than the fear. Thus, they risk.
This article was excerpted from 15 Creativity Killers and How to Eradicate Them by Just Creative.