Creativity is a skill you develop, not a trait you are born with. Many people who avoid doing creative work tend to feel frustrated after realizing they cannot produce a masterpiece in their first attempts. Nonetheless, I perceive that frustration is a result not of the lack of talent but rather from the high expectation. If everyone struggles at first while learning how to dance, how to draw, how to cook, how to code…. why would you expect to produce something extraordinary in your first attempt? The willingness to be a fool is the precursor for your transformation.
Suppose creativity is trainable through consistent trial and error. In that case, the advice I would have loved to hear back when I was a teenager is that you don’t wait for inspiration to come; you command it to appear. You choose a small idea, and you develop it. There is so much of my creative work in its early stages that I cannot say what I like. Still, I learned to acknowledge every creative piece’s potential to improve after being developed and edited. When I compose music or when I write a short essay, my goal is not to find evidence that I was born to do creative work but rather to make my best attempt to put together a coherent idea from beginning to end. If it fits my taste or others, it is irrelevant.
I used to have the excuse of having “writer’s block” quite often. I justified my lack of material to showcase as a consequence of not having any good ideas. The truth is that I didn’t notice that I barely made any efforts to have any wrong ideas neither. I wish all the great composers and writers who produce many good ideas consistently didn’t forget to mention that they also have thousands of bad ideas. The excellent pieces of work we get to admire slip from the flow of bad pieces they create.
It makes sense that the more you create, the more you grasp what works and what doesn’t. I appreciated every lousy creation when I stumble into a specific feature that did work or could be useful in another context or piece. Now I understand why the best advice for a graduate student is to write a terrible first draft of their thesis. And we all can create a crappy piece of creative work. Think about this, if someone tells you to sit and write 100 pages, write a song, or finish a PowerPoint presentation for next Monday, or otherwise, you will be shot…. you would do it.
In closing, if you want to get better at being creative… ship little ideas often. Start and finish each piece fast enough before getting discouraged by how no one will like it.