Declaring "I am Creative" will never be the end of the story. There are steps to take, too.

When their tagline: Creativity + Productivity = Success first caught my eye, I immediately subscribed to Lateral Action. From their About page:

Lateral Action is a web publication that aims to help you succeed (however you define success) by getting you to realize that busy does not equal productive or more importantly, innovative.

I needed a site like Lateral Action. Need.

This year they began a series to help "Break Through Your Creative Blocks." I've skimmed a few of them, when time permitted, but yesterday reading the beginning of #6, I realized the series deserves more of my attention. So much so that I decided to revisit each post, beginning with the first one published in January: Creative Block #1 - "I'm Not Creative."

Reading the title, I considered skipping ahead to the second one. It was a good day. A confident day. Of course I'm creative!

Then I had to get real with myself. As I started reading his post, I realized that there are times the very need for help with this specific creative block is cleverly cloaked in subtle doubt. Doubting one's creativity isn't always a blatant assertion: "I'm Not Creative." It occurs to me that I sometimes do something much more damaging to my creativity than making such a bold assertion: I qualify the assertion. Chip away at its validity. During less confident times, a repeated pattern for me is to compare my work to that of more established creatives and point out ways in which my own efforts come up lacking. (This includes photographers, potters, jewelry designers, writers, web designers - fill in the blank with whatever creative endeavor I've been involved with at any given time.)

You know what? This isn't useful. It is negating of creativity to compare our creations with those of others. The only good reason I can find for making such comparisons is when doing so helps us to establish goals for ourselves. If I see a website that blows my mind, which uses technology I'd love to master but which leaves me at a loss, the best thing I can do for myself is identify the lessons I would need to learn in order to go about building such a site. And then learn those lessons. The worst thing I can do is think, "That was created by a "real" web designer. I could never do that." Comparing ourselves to others and always deciding we come up lacking keeps us from doing the real work. The creative work.

The core declaration Mark McGuinness makes in the Lateral Action piece is, quite simply, that "A creative person is a person who creates things."

He briefly explores some of the explanations concerning "creative types." These explanations explore divine inspiration, genius, madness, personality, talent, and lateral thinking. And then he cuts to the chase with a simple recommendation, followed by steps to follow:

Forget about ‘Being Creative’ – Start Creating...

[His steps are:]

  1. Goals
  2. Options
  3. Actions
  4. Review

Visit this page to read more on what is involved in taking these steps. They bear exploration. But what, perhaps, is even more useful is the resource that follows. Not only does he define the four steps, but he provides a host of resources for building these skills.

Funny how when spelled out like this, it makes so much sense. Turn off the voices that tell yourself you can't do something, and prove those voices wrong by simply doing that thing.

Which leads us back to the Lateral Action declaration: Creativity + Productivity = Success

Here's to your success.