“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” — Albert Einstein
There is no doubt creativity is one of the most useful features human beings can have. It greatly leverages any skill, bringing impossible things into reality.
Much has been said about creativity, and yet there are so many myths surrounding it. As something that cannot be taught, only exercised, its abstraction leaves room to the idea that not everybody is capable of being creative.
Kevin Ashton, in his Medium post The Creativity Myth, tells the story of a forged letter, attributed to Mozart. The letter talks about his work as if creativity came to him without effort, delivering a complete symphony directly into his mind, and he didn’t even need an instrument to get the idea right. Meanwhile, real letters from Mozart to his family tell a whole different story: his masterpieces wouldn't just pop up in his mind as magic. It was actual hard work.
The myth of creativity is this idea that only certain especial people are creative; the idea of born geniuses or lucky individuals that had “an inspiration” once and it came as a perfect, whole idea that made them either rich or famous. This fantasy has much of the medieval spirit: make people believe that something external, like a magical force, should define their destinies. If I was not born a genius, why bother? It also exempts us from the responsibility of fighting for greater achievements.
“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all.” — Michelangelo
Creativity is not a walk in the park. It needs hard work, commitment. Nevertheless, it is achievable, and everyone has the potential to be creative. Some people are just more trained than others on how to explore it.
Ideas won’t come out of nowhere. We need a meaningful input in order to generate any creative output. Much of what we create has to do with what we consume as food for thoughts — and that's why it's normally easier to come up with ideas related to things we love and care about.
Another important thing regarding creativity is that original ideas come with a price: as something that was never done before, there is no guarantee of success, and you need to accept that. An environment that promotes fear of failure is hazardous for creative people; this is a big problem in our society nowadays, from schools to workplaces.
“When it comes to creative endeavors, the concept of zero failures is worse than useless. It is counterproductive.” — Ed Catmull, Creativity Inc.
Creativity requires hard work, and some courage — but it's feasible, and it makes the world a much better place. Don't wait for inspiration to come knocking on your door: go chase it. Once you have a glimpse of an idea, start digging, doing what you can with what you have now. As you go deeper, you'll find better ways to dig.