School is built around the idea of individual sufficiency, talent and creation. Why, then is it so difficult to be creative?
As a senior in college, I have felt repeated waves of uneasiness and ambivalence towards my future. Often, it is second nature and effortless to complete a task delegated to me, or follow the leader. But true ability, potential and success come from original creation. Anybody can do what they’re told, but the true greats set the curve, rather than follow it. The question I present is: Why is it difficult for me to be creative? (By creative, I mean producing original ideas).
The Importance of History
“No idea’s original, it’s nothing new under the sun, it’s never what you do but how it’s done.”
“Try say something new, it ain’t nothing new to say, everything’s been done each and every which way.”- Ab-Soul
Anything that happens is a result of what happened. A potential truth is that there is no more original creation. As Ab-Soul states, there is no possibility for creating something original because everything has already been done!
Before the internet, and before electricity, inventions were all original (except for people that created the same thing in different places, but that would still be original in both cases, right?). These days, however, time has brought us closer than ever. With clear windows into the past and the rest of the world, we spend a lot less time on our own than we used to. Rather than having our own thoughts, we spend the majority of our time having someone else’s thought. Like you reading this article right now, you are having my thoughts. This brings me to my first point. Welcome to my brain.
1. Excessive Outside Influence
When the majority of our time is spent looking at other people, it becomes difficult to know our own thoughts. We are what we repeatedly do, so the more we focus on other people and read what they have to say, the farther we are from where what we want to say.
2. Rigid Patterns in Brain Structures
“it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the litteers inawrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.”- Research at Cambridge University
Can you read the previous sentence? If so, it is because you have a (partially) developed brain. As our brains learn and see the same words, we create brain structures to facilitate those words. Like holes for different shapes, our brains create spaces for words to go into. But like shapes, it doesn’t matter what’s inside, only what the borders are. So as long as the first and last letter are the same, your brain can easily rearrange the word to it’s correct order. Great, so what does this have to do with creativity? Sounds pretty creative to read rimeoissn as remission, right? Yes, but unfortunately, these brain structures build motifs that support information we already know, and undermine our abilities to create new ways of thinking, and consequently, generate new ideas.
3. Fear of Ridicule
At the end of the day, we all have ideas. No matter how hard we think it is to think of original, novel, fresh ideas, we all do it, often unconsciously.
The uncertainty of idea generation is that it is difficult to come up with good ideas. Good ideas, by their very nature, are successful. In this aspect, we judge our ideas against their possibility of success. Judgement is forever subjective. That means that good is not a cut and dry, black and white idea. Good is whatever you deicide it is. As a great person once said, “you have to be your main source of motivation.” When this is true, ridicule is non-existent, because you are who you’re doing it for.
So why aren’t I creative? Because I’m afraid that my ideas might not be good enough. This lack of faith in my abilities will never get me anywhere, except for where I’m at. I have to stand behind myself. Hard to be in two places at once, but Donald Trump is president- anything is possible!
Cover photo courtesy of michaelroud.com.