If you let the fear of the unknown stop you from even starting, you won’t start

Creativity is YOU. It is not an activity but what you bring to it when you give yourself permission to make mistakes and not be afraid of it.

Creativity is on everything. When you don’t feel like being creative or think there is no room for creativity with the task at hand think again. Creativity is not something you learn or something you can turn on and off. Creativity is something that happens when you start doing something. To trigger creativity you might want to try things without thinking too much about the end result. Also, having some sort of limitations and/or restrictions usually triggers some creativity.

A while ago I was home with my two sons, my wife and daughter were away in a mother/daughter trip to Europe. It was probably the third day since they had left and I was already out of ideas for dinner. I thought about making enchiladas as we all liked them and they are easy to make. I opened the fridge just to realize the ingredients needed to make enchiladas weren’t there. I really wanted to cook for my kids and not order pizza or something similar, so I opened the fridge again and grabbed a plastic container with some cooked beans, and also corn tortillas and queso fresco. What to do with that? well, enchiladas – but made with beans of course. My resources were limited but ideas were flowing. This is how the bean enchiladas were made, they were surprisingly good and sometimes I still cook those for my kids… they like them.

Was this creative? of course it was. Creativity is on everything we do and is all around us. Give yourself permission to be creative by not worrying about perfection or failure.

I am not creative

We have said this to ourselves multiple times, until one day we realize that being creative is not something you learn, but something you just do. Telling ourselves that we don’t have an idea is just an excuse. Having an idea before you start something creative is not necessary, much less required. First you need to start doing something and then creativity will come to you one way or another. If you wait for this creativity and ideas to come to you before you start something, then you’ll never start anything.

Writer’s block is real and it happens to all of us, my own work around about this is to just start typing on a blank page whatever thoughts are on my mind at the moment, anything. More often than not the things I type don’t make sense, but that exercise helps me come up with ideas and then the words and sentences start flowing. Usually the result of that exercise is still not good enough, and that is OK. That process is just to get my brain going and generate enough information from which I can then start creating something else. Do not worry about how good or bad it is, if you stop to edit what you are doing you’ll be interrupting yourself. This is one way I help myself to get ideas, to be creative and get going. Just start. You’ll have time later to edit whatever it is that you are doing.

Get yourself out of the way

What this means is that you should let your ego aside when thinking about creating something. Getting yourself out of the way means just that, step aside and let your creative side take over. Trust me, we all have a creative side, all of us. How do you get yourself out of the way? Just start creating something as I mentioned above. If it is a book that you are writing then just start typing, if it is a video then just start recording, and so on. For example, every time I want to write a blog post or code a new application, I just start and don’t think too much about it. Remember, the result of that will probably not be your masterpiece, that’s OK, all you are trying to do at this point is to get your creative side going. Don’t over think it, don’t start something with the goal to show your creativity or to please an audience, it won’t work. Start because you want to do it for you, because you are interested about something, because you are passionate about it and then creativity will show up. Our desire as humans is to please others, to be liked and so we are terrified of not being liked or being ridiculed. Those feelings will prevent you from doing great creative things.

Get yourself out of the way, put your fears aside and just start and enjoy your own work.

Failure is OK

Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it – Salvador Dali

Fear to fail is also one of the reasons people don’t get started and feel they aren’t creative. When you think of starting a business, write a new song, cook a new meal, design something new, the fear of failing is almost always there. Ignore it, just start and don’t worry about the outcome. Failure needs to be seen as what it is, a step towards your goal.

Failing is part of a learning experience, it is what allows you to tweak your work and make it even better. For example, as I am writing this blog post my goal is to have a series of reminders to help myself don’t forget about any of this. In my eyes, this post is successful already as it does accomplish what my goal was originally, to remind myself not to take things too seriously and to start writing on a blank page about my current thoughts when I feel I have writer’s block.

If the goal of this post was to please an audience, then I will fear that whoever reads this might not like it, that people might make negative comments about it, etc… However, It doesn’t matter because I write things for myself. Now, if whatever I write ends up resonating with someone or helping them on any way, that’s great! it’s a bonus.

Also, always keep in mind that any creative work you do, can also be the starting point of another, and even better piece of work. As mentioned above, a good way to get creative ideas is to work on something, anything. And while that work might be a total failure to you, it could also be the event that needed to happen for you to come up with the idea and creative work that succeeds.

I am not an expert

The good news is that to be creative you don’t have to be an expert. In fact, not being an expert on something gives you the liberty, freedom and advantage to be naïve and creative. What does that mean? well, being an expert on something usually means that you understand a lot about something due to extensive repetition, exploration and research. It is not a bad thing, however being an expert sometimes restricts you from doing something different or to go against the flow. Being naïve is a good thing, it allows you to dream about things that you might otherwise not seen as possible. It makes some of the fears and old ideas invisible to you, giving you the opportunity to be different and creative.

The quote at the beginning of this post says it better:

If you let the fear of the unknown stop you from even starting, you won’t start.

That quote is from Nick Thacker’s post labeled Why It’s OK to Be Naïve on Jane Friedman’s site.

I am not original

Being creative does not mean you have to be original. Being original is not even a requirement, what you need to do is be yourself. Give yourself permission to go out there, find something that you like, tweak it to your liking and make it your own. Austin Kleon describes this process and many more useful tips on how to explode your creativity on his book Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

Nothing is original, so embrace influence, collect ideas, and remix and re-imagine to discover your own path

Remember that what makes a book, a paint, a song, a meal, a movie, or any other creative work original is You. When working on something creative, make sure you think of yourself as the audience, do what resonates with you, follow your gut, and take risks, including being seen as naïve, boring or whatever thing terrifies you the most. Create things that you like, that interest you.

Take risks

This is very important. In order to let yourself be creative first you need to let go of fear of being boring, being criticized, etc… Remember that whatever you do, you are doing it for yourself. Having this in mind will help you remove all the fears and doubts about the work you are doing or want to do. All life is an experiment.

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson, with Annotations – 1841-1844

That’s all for now, writing this post was very beneficial for me and I hope it is for you also. Now go on and start doing something!

Creativity is YOU. It is not an activity but what you bring to it when you give yourself permission to make mistakes and not be afraid of it. – Ricardo Sánchez.


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