I recently went back to my childhood home, which I do quite often, and my mom had unearthed a few boxes of my old projects and assignments from elementary school that I hadn't seen in many, many years.
As I looked through the things I had written and drawn back then, I was taken aback. Yes, my writing was full of spelling and grammatical errors, and yes for the most part the "art" looked like it was done by an 8 year old, but there was something special about the spirit behind it all that I couldn't shake.
It was the unbridled creativity inspiring the ideas and drawings that made me realize just how uncreative I had become. It didn't matter that the execution wasn't perfect, because the true power of what I created back then was the limitless innocence and optimism that oozed out of it.
It was very inspiring to me to see that I once had that unconstrained ability, and so I wondered where it had gone. Why is it so difficult for me to be as naturally creative as I once was? I know I'm an "adult" and I'm supposed to be a little serious, but shouldn't my imagination still exist?
The answer I came up with is pretty simple and obvious.
Over the years, sure, our brains get a little "hard." We get a little set in our ways. But, more than that, our life experiences in the "real world" start applying cloudy layers to our imagination, and they're not all good. Pessimistic and negative experience apply a fog to the unchecked optimism that creativity requires, and over the years without success and practice, all of a sudden we don't even know how to reach our natural creative flow anymore.
So, this is my challenge for you. I think anyone can do this, whether you're just getting started or older and feel more set in your ways.
Try to go back and remember everything you can about your young formative days. If you have physical evidence like I did, great, but if not just try to jog your memory with conversations or waypoints you were familiar with back then. Try to remember the spirit with which you approached creative problems.
Do your best to remember how joyful you were back then, and how everything seemed so possible. When you encounter a negative feeling in your 'creative' journey, take a moment to understand where it came from and see if you can't peel that layer away from the way you "see" and process feelings in the future.
You don't need to have the same crazy ability to be creative you had as a kid, you just need to remember that it existed, and that some of it is still inside of you.
As an aside, I now have a two year old daughter who loves when I read books to her. What's amazing about it is that I can read her a book once, and then two weeks later when I read it again she'll remember what words were on what page and recount entire story, which I had already completely forgotten about. I'm not sure I could do what she does if I tried.
This isn't to say she's some sort of genius, but rather to point out how remarkable the uninhibited, unencumbered mind is at soaking up information. After all, why shouldn't someone with a clear mind be able to remember these details? What should stop them? I have so much fog in my mind daily, with responsibilities and worries, that I easily forget how powerful my creative core can be when I let it get to work without distractions.
That's a bit of 'deep' food for thought that I've been pondering a bit and just felt like sharing. I believe how you think is more important than what you know when it comes to consistent success, and I believe too many people gloss over that distinction and don't realize they really can change the first one. Hope you find it useful!
- The Imperfect Marketer
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