Are you waiting for a muse? Are you telling yourself you are not creative?

Those are two of the limitations creativity author Michael Michalko addresses in his article The Seven Deadly Sins that Prevent Creative Thinking. Here are two excerpts, with some of my comments.

SIN ONE – “People do not believe they are creative. We have been taught that we are the product of our genes, our parents, our family history, our personal history, our I.Q., and our education. Consequently, we have been conditioned to have a fixed mindset about creativity and believe only a select few are born creative and the rest not.”

The painting is “Kiss of the Muse” by Paul Cezanne, from my article Creative talent: genetics, a muse, or hard work? – which also includes a video of author Elizabeth Gilbert from her presentation for a TED Conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design).

The video description notes she considered ‘the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius.’

Matt Cardin notes in the same article that during the 15th through the 18th centuries the idea of genius “went from referring to a separate force that guided and, in effect, occasionally possessed people to referring to a special inner quality that people themselves possessed.”

But media discussions of artists – and creative people themselves – often use the language and concept of “inspiration.” Not that there is no such thing as inspiration, of course, but are we sometimes (or often) waiting for some powerful creative idea to know what to do, reveal a path, or have the “creative energy” we think we need to have before accomplishing something creative?

SIN TWO – “We believe many of the myths about creativity that have been promulgated over the years. We’re told creativity is rare, mysterious, magical and comes from a universal unconsciousness, a sudden spark of “Aha!” or the divine. We believe we cannot learn how to be creative. We believe creative types are depressed, crazy, unbalanced, special, different, abnormal, blessed, and trouble makers. Normal educated people cannot be creative and should not embarrass themselves by trying.”

The last part can relate to the mythology of the external muse for many people, I suspect; “normal” people don’t often get “flashes of inspiration” – if ever. So without that “visitation of the muse” they may presume they must not be creative. At least that is one self-limiting interpretation. Trying to do something creative can be embarrassing – so there may be a real need for courage, or ways to deal with anxiety.

Another part of Michalko’s perspective is that there are still many “negative” connotations around the identity of being a “creative type.”

Movies, news and other media, understandably perhaps, focus on creative people who are especially flamboyant or troubled, much more than the far greater numbers of musicians, designers, painters, writers and others who are doing their creative work, but unlikely to get attention.

Read more stimulating ideas in his article: The Seven Deadly Sins that Prevent Creative Thinking.

Michael Michalko is the author of Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work, and a number of other books.

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