I believe one of the things that prevent people from fully realizing their creative potential is the idea of stereotypes.
For example, maybe you think you “can’t” be creative, because you don’t look, act, live, etc., a certain way.
Unfortunately, that kind of belief can become so powerful, it actually ends up crippling your creativity.
That’s why today, I’m wanted to explore ways to rethink common stereotypes that keep us stuck.
Let’s start with a quick quiz:
1) When I see a see a sunrise, I’m moved to:
- Compose a poem.
- Try and capture the beauty with my paints and brush.
- Stumble drunkenly into bed (boy that party was a lot of fun!).
- Cover my face with my pillow and go back to sleep. (Who in their right mind gets up early enough to look at sunrises?)
2) At work, I’m the person my coworkers go to when they need someone to:
- Think up a new theme for the office party (especially if they want it to be a bit wild and off the wall).
- Get people excited for the party.
- Organize the party.
- Clean up after the party.
3) In school, I was considered one of the:
- Nothing. I was kicked out my sophomore year.
Okay, so you have your answers.
Now, take this test again, and write down what you think a creative person would choose as his or her answer.
Scoring: Well, there’s no real scoring here. The point is to get you thinking about creativity and stereotypes.
Let’s take a closer look at three such stereotypes.
1) When I see a sunrise…
You can still be a creative person and not be moved to paint a sunrise or write a poem about it. Everyone is different, and everyone draws their creativity from different things. Personally, you couldn’t catch me anywhere near a sunrise without an IV drip of coffee in my arm. And even if that happened, I’d be lucky if I could reach the creativity level of a turnip.
The point is, every muse is different and every muse dances to a different drumbeat (or maybe it’s not even a drum—maybe it’s a French horn). Sunrises make you yawn? So what? Find what gets your muse dancing, and go with it.
2) At work…
You don’t have to act like a Bohemian to be creative. In fact, that image of a black-clad, beret-wearing, long-cigarette-smoking Artiste has been the bane of many would-be artists. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve run into who don’t have time to BE creative, because they’re too busy trying to LOOK creative.
Creativity comes in many shapes and sizes. It also dresses in a variety of outfits–from t-shirts and paint-splattered jeans, to suits and ties, to cocktail dresses to, yes, the all-black look.
Don’t worry about how your creativity relates to how you look or act. There’s no correlation between the two.
3) In school…
Again, there are no studies linking creativity to getting bad grades or being a social misfit. The class president is no more likely to be creative than the girl caught smoking in the bathroom, or kicked out of school altogether. (Now, whether those schoolyard memories are fodder for creative pursuits is a topic for another day.)
Basically, it comes down to this—creativity doesn’t fit into any one specific, neat little box. Maybe your box is unconventional or conservative. Maybe it’s covered with clay and furiously spinning pots, or impeccably dressed, and churning out million-dollar deals. Whether it’s dressed in black and discussing Satre in a coffee shop, or pushing a stroller in small-town America …
Creativity is just that. Creative. It doesn’t care what package it comes in.
It only cares that you use it.
Creativity Exercise — Taking Away the Power of Stereotypes
Go back to the quiz. Look at the answers you chose for yourself. (If one of my answers didn’t quite fit yours—which is entirely possible–turn your answer into fill-in-the-blank.)
Now, look at the answer you instinctively felt a creative person would have selected. I’m going after instinct here—don’t worry about what you read in the article since.
Do you have two different answers for an answer, depending on the two perspectives?
Describe what makes the answers different and why.
Do you describe yourself in completely opposite terms as you would someone creative? Why is that? Do some journaling to answer.
Now, try describing yourself again, and this time, add the statement “and that makes me creative,” or “yet I still am creative” at the end. For instance: “I hate sunrises and that makes me creative. I was a model student, yet still, I am creative.”
Write each one out ten times a day until you begin to believe it.
For more on this topic, check out another creativity article I wrote, “Quiz: Are You Creative?” You may also like my “Love-Based Copywriting” book.
Will Bontrager says
Fun read, Michele. Now I realize I can be creative with what I assume a creative stereotype is. This will be fun 🙂
Michele PW says
Thank you Will! I had a fun time writing it.