As humans, we often have a hard time embracing our creative identity. In fact, we sometimes believe we aren’t creative at all, and that such talents only belong to other people.
We’re quick to form a picture of what makes someone “creative”. We put lables on people who live creative lifestyles; sometimes positive, sometimes negative, and then we limit ourselves to believing they are the only ones capable of living that way. If we want to break into the realm of Wonder, these myths about creativity need to die.
MYTH #1: CREATIVE PEOPLE ARE MENTALLY OR EMOTIONALLY UNSTABLE
Artists are often labeled, sometimes jokingly, as “insane”, “unstable”, and “unpredictable”. But joke or no, this has given birth to the idea that “normal people” can’t live truly creative lives because being stable is too “boring.”
I know many “normal” people who also happen to be some of the most colorful, creative geniuses there are. The myth that you must be mentally or emotionally “unstable” to make art is one of the most unhealthy beliefs we hold.
MYTH #2: CREATIVE PEOPLE ARE HERMITS
To call them introverts isn’t enough. No—we’ve adopted the belief that in order to live a fully creative life, one must be a hermit, focused entirely on your work and shutting the world out.
The problem with this is, when you shut the world out, you end up isolating yourself, and isolation doesn’t increase creativity—it usually ends up destroying it. In order to create vibrant, true art, we must be in touch and in tune with the world around us.
MYTH #3: CREATIVE PEOPLE DON’T PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS
While this is sometimes true, it certainly isn’t always. There are many highly creative individuals who get their best ideas from working collaboratively with others and interfacing with the world around them. Sometimes they even prefer to work in groups.
MYTH #4: CREATIVE PEOPLE ARE ALOOF AND MYSTERIOUS AND LIKE TO BROOD DARKLY IN THEIR SPARE TIME
This, I think, is the stereotype we most often associate with artists: they’re mysteries. Living, breathing, enigmas. But let me tell you a secret: so are you. So is everyone.
It’s true that creative people often spend a lot of time thinking, pondering, wondering. After all, that is where ideas are born. But this “dark, mysterious presence”, this untouchable elitism is a myth. Brooding darkly does not make you an artist. It just means you’re moody.
MYTH #5: CREATIVE PEOPLE LIVE ENTIRELY IN A FANTASY WORLD
We’ve believed in the idea that logic and creativity—the “real world” and “fantasy” don’t belong together. In fact, we pit them against each other completely. However, I believe some of the greatest creative works draw from both worlds. The idea that someone must always be living with their head in the clouds to be an artist is simply absurd.
MYTH #6: CREATIVE PEOPLE ONLY MAKE “ARTSY” THINGS
We have an interesting definition of “art”. We think “art” only includes things like paintings and drawings. But the truth is, art encompasses much more than that. Creative people aren’t merely makers of “artsy” things. They’re problem solvers. Inventors. They use both logic and imagination to come up with solutions and new ideas in all sorts of situations, from paintings to software code, to amazing architecture. There isn’t “one way” to be creative.
MYTH #7: CREATIVE PEOPLE ARE NAÏVE AND CHILDISH
Unfortunately, this is sometimes true, although remaining childish does nothing to increase or improve your creativity. In fact, many of the most artistic, creative people I know are adults; people very aware of the realities and hardships of life. More often than not, increased creativity comes with increased wisdom and life experience.
These myths are dangerous because they hinder people like you and me. They keep us from fully embracing and connecting with our creative identity. Perhaps some of these myths are true of you, but perhaps they aren’t. Regardless, I want to challenge you not to let them influence or dictate your identity as a creator. It’s okay to be different than expected. It’s okay to simply be you—and to make things your way.
- Has believing these myths limited your beliefs about creativity?
- Have they caused you to struggle with your own identity as someone who is allowed to wonder?
- How have you wrestled with these ideas in your own life?