What Do Creative People Have That I Don’t?

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“How did you come up with that?”

Artists get questions like this all the time. Those who admire their work marvel at the originality of their ideas, and can’t help but wonder why some people are able to come by such concepts so easily. They often ask themselves, “what do creative people have that I don’t?”

Many believe that creative individuals are special, that they possess some unique gift that’s forever out of reach to the rest of us.

They’re wrong.

The truth is, we’re all creative. If you think there’s not a single creative bone in your entire body, you’re wrong.

We all dream. We all wonder and we all ask questions, questions about the world, about the nature of life and death. We all have profound experiences that move us emotionally, that drive us to love or hate, to laugh or cry. Even in the most ordinary of circumstances, we find from time to time that our minds wander down strange and unfamiliar avenues. We all have a unique perception of the world, a fresh vision that, when expressed, adds value to the human experience as a whole.

So what is it that sets creative people apart from everybody else? Why do some have all the ideas, while others have none? Why are some lives full of wonder and awe, while others are so dull and boring?

Creativity is a way of thinking.

There are four attributes that separate creative people from all the rest.

1. Creative people value the everyday things that most of us think of as boring.

Creative people embrace the mundane, because they know that the exotic, the beautiful and the strange lie just beneath its surface. Many mistakenly believe that creative ideas must come from somewhere a million miles away from home. They think that unless they’ve scaled the heights of Mount Everest, that unless they’ve hiked across the Sahara Desert, that unless they’ve had the kinds of adventures that most of us can only dream of, that they’ll never have an original idea worthy of articulation. They don’t realize that what they’re looking for is and always has been laying right under their noses.

In fact, the best art is that which builds on the ordinary. Art derived from common everyday experience is relatable. It serves as a bridge between the ordinary and the extraordinary, providing ready access to the world of the unknown and reminding us that we can always find the adventures we seek in our own backyards.

2. Creative people listen to their thoughts.

At any given moment, your mind is filled with countless voices, a vast constellation of thoughts and ideas, all chattering away in the background. Most of the time, we’re not aware of them. They’re nothing more than white noise, an ever-present static that we block out so we can focus on our daily tasks.

Creative people take the time to listen to those thoughts. They make an effort to develop mindful awareness, which allows them to be sensitive to what most of us filter out unconsciously. They scan the background chatter, sifting for ideas worthy of expression. Over time, they learn how to integrate this awareness into everyday life, so that not a thought goes by that isn’t consciously registered.

Creative people understand that ideas are not things to be sought after like buried treasure, but that they come and go as they please, that they’re gifts which are given. Instead of endlessly wracking their brains, exhausting themselves in vain, creative people learn to focus their efforts on optimizing the process of discovery, so that when an idea does scurry by amidst the rabble, they’ll be able to identify and snatch it up before it’s gone forever.

3. Creative people indulge in “what-if’s.”

The difference between someone who’s creative and someone who’s not is that the ordinary person’s mind will conjure a random “what-if” and immediately dismiss it, mistaking it as part of the useless banter that flits back and forth between the conscious and the subconscious, while the creative person’s mind will seize it before it’s lost; like all great explorers, the creative person will plumb its depths, and like all great detectives, the creative person will follow its trail faithfully, fleshing out all of its logical conclusions along the way.

4. Creative people understand that there are no “bad ideas.”

Creative people don’t fall for the lie that some ideas are more worthy of consideration than others. They recognize that it’s precisely those thoughts which others find absurd that are most worthy of exploration. Many of the world’s most artistic endeavors started with a thought that many “ordinary” folks would have dismissed as ridiculous.

This is good news for all who have creative aspirations.

This means that creativity is accessible to all. It means that good ideas aren’t reliant on some magical ability that some are born with and others are not. There may be individuals whose creativity is part of their DNA, to whom artistic expression occurs naturally and without much effort. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t consciously develop those skills later in life, at least to some degree.

Creative people aren’t gods to be set above the rest of us on some lofty pedestal. They’re human beings, like you and me. Some of us may have been born with more artistic skill than others, but that doesn’t mean that those who are less genetically inclined are therefore excluded from the world of wonder and awe that creative people are fortunate enough to be able to explore. It’s a world that’s open to all who wish to share in her secrets.

If you’re human, then you have all the tools you need to be an artist.

Author: Jeff Coleman

Jeff Coleman is a writer who finds himself drawn to the dark and the mysterious, and to all the extraordinary things that regularly hide in the shadow of ordinary life.

2 thoughts on “What Do Creative People Have That I Don’t?”

  1. Nice post, Jeff. I think a critical component is also the desire to be creative. For example, I didn’t feel the least bit creative when I first was bit by the writing bug. All I knew was that I wanted to write a book about something, but my imagination felt stale. I pretty much didn’t believe I could be creative, but over time, though, as I began using my creative side, it got easier and easier.

    I do think you’re right, though. We all can be creative. I don’t yet think of myself as an artist or anything, but maybe someday 🙂

    1. I think that’s true. I was making the assumption that anyone reading the post already desired to be creative 😉 I’ve been there as well, where I thought I could never come up with anything interesting. The brain has the very annoying habit of making beliefs like that come true…

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