For all the filler content pretending otherwise, there is no secret to creativity, no recipe to make it happen.
You’re either driven to make something that wasn’t there before or you’re not, no matter how much you might like the idea.
As a theme, creativity fascinates because many of us lead a staid life and are very set in our ways. We naturally envy those whose lives are steeped in interestingness but we’re seldom prepared to take action to emulate them.
Creativity is a way of life that takes hard work, dedication, and luck.
It also needs a well-stocked mind and life experience to thrive, not yet another self-help book or online coaching course. Those are run by people whose sole aim is to profit off your dreams without any intention of helping you achieve them.
And creativity needn’t fall prey to capitalism. If you really want to do something, you’ll go ahead and find ways to make it happen. Having to first set the scene and organize conditions in which creativity can take place is in itself a creative act.
Because creativity is resourcefulness incarnate. If you’re unable to create until inspiration strikes, you’re in for lifelong frustration. If you’re unable to create unless you enjoy perfect conditions, you’re in for lifelong frustration. If you’re unable to create without an audience in mind then you shouldn’t bother.
For many of us, making something is often a solo pursuit happening behind closed doors. There’s never any guarantee whatsoever it’ll resonate with another human. And yet, the visceral need to turn an idea into a thing is what drives you.
What others might make of your creation isn’t your primary concern but creating it is.
Without curiosity, there’s no life but an existence pared down to basic bodily functions.
Curiosity is often conflated with an open mind and a desire to find out more about the world and our place in it. But it’s also the willingness to look inward and investigate. Knowing yourself can help you understand others, but you can’t understand your fellow humans unless you know exactly who you are.
Although no progress would ever have happened without it, curiosity still suffers from a bad rap and negative connotations. But were it not for curiosity, we’d still still be cave dwellers, not creatures who carry a semi-sentient window to the world in our pockets. And launch into space aboard rockets.
To be curious is to be tuned into to the world within and the world without, constantly seeking to understand our experience by way of questioning.
And to document it using knowledge, drawing from whatever disciplines you have access to. When no knowledge is available, then reasoning and guesswork take over.
But when we start combining various clues — that is to say connecting dots — in new ways is when things get interesting. Serendipitous discoveries and epiphanies happen, those “Aha!” moments that transport us into a creative dimension where ideas and hunches mesh and effortlessly become things.
And yet, creative flow isn’t something you can conjure up at will but the result of rubbing two dots together until sparks fly and ignite an idea.
In short, curiosity is a vehicle that carries creativity forward guided by the desire to make something happen.
Without care, curiosity can soon run amok.
The grasshopper mind has a tendency to do that. When everything is interesting, focus can be hard to hang on to. And so you end up lost in a warren of interestingness only to emerge discombobulated and empty-handed a few hours later. Often, you don’t even remember what your original aim was.
But when your heart leads the way, curiosity pushes you forward.
When you care deeply about the idea you’re trying to bring into the world, magic happens. Only this, too, is a misleading name for hard work. If you’re consumed by the urge to create, you won’t stop until you’re done and have scratched the itch.
By definition, the creative process is no more glamorous than the muse is mysterious, both being a matter of semantics.
The former involves solving mental challenges through combinatorial thinking. The latter is the result of an accidental collision between motivation and inspiration, a rare fluke if you will. And it is one you can spend a lifetime waiting for.
While there’s no guarantee the muse will show up, when it does, you’ll know. And the muse has the power to upend to your life if you choose to honor and take great care of it rather than take it for granted.
Creativity demands humility and the readiness to embrace the unknown, trusting you’ll come out the other side.
With something new that only you can make.
I’m a French-American writer and journalist living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.