When I was grad school for chemistry I called my mom to tell her I wasn’t creative. She dismissed my comment, but I couldn’t.
I had a fine background and did well in the courses, but when it came to the research, I had no idea what I wanted to do or what direction to go in.
The pain behind my words
I watched my friends taking off on their projects. Finding ideas and resource, making progress on their problems.
I felt frustrated and out of place. I doubted my ability to do original research, or even come up with any original idea at all.
I felt like I had no creativity for anything. It added to my feelings of not being enough and that I was someplace I didn’t belong.
Eventually I left the program to work for awhile.
It’s been many years now since I felt like this. And now I realize a few things that I wasn’t thinking of at the time.
There are many types and measures of creativity
Just because you aren’t creative in one area, doesn’t mean you aren’t in any area of your work, life, hobbies or art. During this time I was in school, I was sewing a lot at home. I even made wedding dresses. That certainly took creativity, but I discounted this in my focus on one measure of creativity.
I had things all wrong. I was forgetting the most important thing about being creative.
If you want to feel creative, find something you care about.
That was the problem for me in grad school. I didn’t care that much about getting the degree, or the project I had. I just didn’t have enough interest. I love science, but I didn’t have enough interest in this aspect of science.
Why caring is so important for creativity
Caring means you are willing to invest time, mental energy and emotional energy. This is what is really needed for creativity.
You have to think about your problems a lot to find new ideas and new thinking. You have to be willing to read, study, experiment and gather information. This gives you building blocks of new ideas.
Problems need to be turned over and reflected upon in order to see all angles. Even when you aren’t at work, your subconscious goes to work finding answers for you.
Creativity takes time.
Sometimes ideas are slow to form. We have to be willing to ask the same questions over and over until an answer comes. Y
ou have to spend a lot of time working on ideas and then putting them into practice. This leads to new ideas as you find things that can be improved or done differently. There is no shortcut or easy hack to the time required to build your idea bank.
Your emotional energy gives you motivation
When you care enough you find motivation. Your motivation comes when you know what you want and why you want it.
This drives you to keep working and investing your time and energy. It leads to loads of new creative thought if you don’t give up.
I had little motivation for my research. I did little more than show up, and I didn’t have the creativity to work on finding a solution to the situation either. I simply didn’t care enough to find a way to make it work, which is what being creative is all about.
I found things to care about
Today I don’t ever say I’m not creative. I know I am.
That’s because I care about what I do, and it shows. I learn new things, and I look for new ideas as I develop current ideas into new projects. It’s very fulfilling to see the slow evolution.
I give time and energy every day because these things I do are important to me.
So, if you ever find yourself stuck, feeling like you have no creativity, then ask yourself if you care enough about what you are doing.
If the answer is yes, and you are just blocked, then maybe it will help to go back to why you care and what it means to you.
If the answer is no, then ask what would make you care more, what your other options are, or if you really need to change what you do.
Life is too short not to care about what you do and it’s too painful missing the joy of creativity.