All creators are not born equal and they certainly don’t think or work equal. In those differences lie the keys to true creativity, because what they don’t tell you in the cool places where they promise to sell you your new “creative” lifestyle, is that true creativity involves a lot of thinking and working.
There are creators and makers spilling out of the cracks. There are millions of us, billions even. So much so that they have a new term for us now, they call us “content creators”. Some of us have this as our job title, some of us are just assigned it as a description of the anonymous position we occupy in some vast business machine. Some of us should be working for the right to be much more than content creators, and many of us are unnecessarily sensitive about being called this, because that’s all we’re living up to with what we make.
Making things becomes easier and more accessible with time, that is the story of human history ever repeating. With cheaper tools, more available instruction and a deluge of step-by-step tutorials, everything that starts out being special and difficult to create eventually becomes simpler. At that point the mediocre quality version of that thing is reduced to a commodity. We’ve seen this happen with photography in a most startling way over the last decade.
A similar fate has befallen what most people like to call “graphic design”, adding decorative elements to things of questionable usefulness. There are thousands of step-by-step tutorials for how to make (more accurately, emulate) a particular style of poster or logo. People who follow a list of instructions with little to no input or insight of their own are now creatives and designers.
There is a problem with this, which is that steps are not creativity. Steps are technique and knowledge, but true creativity is decision making. Techniques require effort, but creativity is work, thoughtful, considered, directed, self-analyzing and self-improving effort. You can’t buy creativity, you must nurture and grow it.
You are not creative by merely making something. I know it’s difficult to hear and contrary to everything every brand trying to sell you more stuff tells you, but you must hear it if you really do want to be creative. By merely making something, you are a maker, which is a fine enough thing to be; Just don’t confuse it with creativity. All of us, or at least most of us, have the potential to be creative. Most of us, though, have little interest or perseverance to put in the work required to get there.
Creativity in the things you make is about thoughtful decisions and thoughtful efforts. Those thoughts, how to encourage and hone them, and other such creative ideas is what I often try to speak about here. There are no 10 easy steps to creativity that you can memorize, but instead there is a vast forest of conditioning your mind, your tastes and your temperament to make and then to wonder, to wonder and then to advance, to advance and then to transcend. Only with such growing thought and work on the things you make, will you become a traveler on the long road to creativity.