I warn you, this may be rambly and going-off-on-tangenty. The thing is I’ve always been thinking about the issue of being a creative person, but it wasn’t until a 14 year old waitress at work put it so succinctly, that I’d even realised I totally understood her issue. She isn’t academic, like her siblings, but is very bright, so she was labelled ‘creative’
But she couldn’t create anything.
So then what? What is a teenager meant to do with that information? Are the only two options being academic or creative?
As a child, I was both. I was academically very bright, purely because I was a voracious reader, and by voracious I mean voracious. I would read anything and everything, and would concoct all kinds of apparatus that would enable to me to read past ‘end of reading’ in bed when the lights were turned off. I was also creative, in that I played the flute, could cook and, much to my parent’s delight, used to make these weird sculptures by drawing cats on paper, cutting them out and sticking them onto other bits of paper with cars drawn on them. I hated mess so would never use glue or glitter – only sellotape.
However, as I grew up, I read less and less and devoted less time to sticking paper cats together. I’m afraid I’d become a full time teenager, and devoted my life to being exactly the same as everyone else. Even though I loved playing music I was loath to practise anything other than songs I wanted to play (pretty much limited to musicals) and when I got bored of playing the flute (musicals require a wider range) I switched to the clarinet, so as result am average at both. I also can’t draw or sing or anything normal. I can cook a bit, knit a bit, sew a bit (i.e. can hem curtains. Badly.) these were not hobbies that I cared to admit to as a teenager, so I stuck to listening to music, watching TV and drinking vast quantities of alcohol (which as a teenager, I could do in epic proportions without so much as a slurred word and no trace of a hangover).
I’m not academic either, as it turns out. I just have a good memory and can write well. I hated school and was pretty rubbish at university – I scraped a 2:1, which was, devastatingly, later downgraded to a 2:2 *grinds teeth* I hated memorising boring studies with their boring names and even more boring outcomes. My luck with school came from a frighteningly large reserve of general knowledge, gathered from TV and books, hence why there’s a great void in my knowledge – I know NOTHING about sport.
But what did I want to do?
At university, I wanted to watch TV and go home. I think I’d have developed full on depression (rather than odd gloomy spell I actually got), had I not got a job in a hotel to structure my week.
It took me working in a restaurant for about six years to finally work out that I loved writing. I spent a long time thinking I wanted to run a restaurant or café, but it turns out, I’d hate that. I was just confused – I was good at working in a restaurant, and I didn’t hate it nearly as much as my friends all hated their jobs. I didn’t dread the work week, I pretty much enjoyed it. I didn’t love it though – it just came easily to me and I loved my work colleagues.
This is not the same as loving your job.
It took me ages to realise that writing was my passion, and that I was pretty good at it – spelling and grammar at least. The thing is, I thought that if I loved ad wanted to do it as a career, I’d want to do it 24/7, 7 days a week. I do love writing, but I don’t leap out of bed every day and sashay over to my laptop; eager to begin. I have to force myself to actually climb onto my chair, turn my computer on and start typing.
Once I’m there it starts to flow – or doesn’t as the case may be. I’m working on a novel, and find myself daydreaming about it all the time, and get all excited, but actually turning the laptop on can be so hard. I find myself procrastinating, even though I want to write. Hand writing has been my saviour – its less pressurising for me somehow – staring at an empty page allows me to daydream; staring at an empty screen makes me anxious.
Did I have a point?
Ah yes. Don’t worry if you’re not an academic person or think you’re particularly creative. Try out loads of stuff. Buy some wool and a crochet hook. Put ‘doodles’ into Pinterest if you think you might like to draw but don’t think you can. Just do something, rather than resign yourself to spending your life doing something you hate.
And don’t think that just because you’re not chomping at the bit to do something, you don’t love it. Humans have this default setting that makes getting up off your arse and away from the tv the hardest part about doing anything.
A good strategy I use is to give myself a choice. Mine is simple: write something (blog post, story, brain storm/dump) or go for a run. Because my running routine is so easy (it had to be tbh) – I literally put on my sports bra, trainers, grab my headphones and go; same route every time to avoid procrastination – I often take this option, so even if I feel bad for not writing, I’ve still gone for a run so WELL DONE ME. If it’s rainy/windy/I’m lazy I gladly write because the alternative is running in the rain.
I hoped this helped. Either by making you anxious to go and try something new, or by making you feel less alone about wanting to start a cute little Etsy business that surprisingly ends up making you a bajillionaire, but not being able to actually create something.
Everyone is creative, even if they haven’t found out how. And I’m afraid the only way to winkle out your long-suppressed talent is by trying a load of stuff.