Be a creative (n.), not just creative (adj.)
“Wow, you’re so creative!” “Did you really come up with that?” “That’s such a cool idea!” “You could be an artist!”
Thanks to modern education, we go through the school system like a puck falling down a plinko board. Every grade, every class, pushes us towards one bin or the other. Children don’t really notice what’s going on—or even care. But over time their identities begin to emerge and they find themselves being pushed into one of two categories. They soon identify as a creative type or a non-creative type.
There are fancy names for these two types of individuals: left-brained or right-brained. Left-brainers are logical, analytical, and observant. They are consumers of information. The ones who sit quietly in the background watching, observing, and making sense of all that happens in the world around them. Silently categorizing occurrences into predictable behaviors and patterns. They're also the ones who aren't very good at drawing. Right-brainers are quite the opposite. They are more thoughtful, intuitive, and subjective. The ones who will become the artists, the musicians, the writers, the adventurous ones who chase life. They are the ones who excelled at drawing horses in third grade. Right-brainers are the creatives.
What a load of crap. We’ve twisted the word “creative” until it's become synonymous with "artsy" or imaginative. Artsy is defined as someone who is merely interested in the arts. But does being interested in the arts make you a creative?
As a society, we give out the word “creative” as a badge of honor to those who come up with fun and new ideas. Even if they don’t create anything.
Creative has two definitions. At first glance, the difference can seem immaterial. But I argue the effects of this difference can literally change the course of your life.
Creative as an adjective means “having good imagination or original ideas.” This is the definition we are familiar with. The definition that is given to “artsy” individuals. When we tell someone they are creative we acknowledge their ability to imagine new ideas. Someone who prefers to keep their thoughts and ponderings more practical and down-to-earth are regarded as boring, unimaginative, and not creative.
Creative used as a noun refers to a person who creates things. That’s it. You are a creative when you create things.
Why as a society do we award the creative badge of honor for those who may be artsy or imaginative but never create anything?
We have our thinking of creativity backwards. You aren't a creative when you think about making things, you are a creative when you actually go make something. Artists are creatives because they paint beautiful paintings. Poets are creatives because they write poems that express emotional imagery. Vloggers are creatives because they tell stories by filming their lives.
For all you right-brainers who grew up being told you were creative, congratulations! Take that confidence and that artsy energy and go make something. You can have all the amazing ideas in the world behind the locked doors of your imagination but until you actually create something you aren’t a creative (n.), only creative (adj.).
For all you left-brainers who grew up believing you weren’t creative listen to me carefully (or read carefully). You aren’t a creative because you think about making things. You are a creative when you start making things. Don’t have any big world-changing ideas yet? That’s okay! Just go make something. What should you make? Anything! When you start engaging in the act of making something, you’ll find that you start to think.
You start being a creative (n.) when you stop only thinking about things to make but start making things so that you can think.
There’s nothing wrong with having an imagination. There’s nothing wrong with coming up with original ideas or having an appreciation for other’s work. The collective of advancements by the human race can be traced to someone with an idea. But if you look a little further you’ll find something more. These world changer didn’t stop at simply being creative, they were a creative.
Creatives are the makers, the doers, the ones who don’t just think about changing the world but actually do. Creatives don’t just think about making things but make things so that they can think. Creatives are the ones who change the world not because they imagine a better world but because they go out and make the world a better place. Creatives are the dreamers, the visionaries, the thinkers who don’t stop at the thought but go and create and tell a story.