3 Ways To Turn Your Highlighters Into Crayons


“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty, they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the 'creative bug' is just a wee voice telling you, 'I'd like my crayons back, please.” Hugh MacLeod Ignore Everybody

Do you ever play a game by yourself just for fun?

For instance, my husband tries to stop the gas pump on even numbers.  One of my work colleagues tries to sneak in the last word on every conference call. A different colleague keeps score of business cliches (at the end of the day, think outside the box, etc.), all just for fun.

As for me, my sport is telling people they are creative and waiting for the denial.

I'm rarely disappointed.

"OH! That's a great idea! You are so creative."

Then I count...One. Two. Three. I rarely get to four.

For some, they argue their solution is "logical," as though creativity and logic are mutually exclusive (they aren't).  Others turn reminiscent and talk about how they USED to be creative, but aren't any more.  Still others divert attention from the compliment by changing the subject.

In my experience, more people deny their creativity than argue with a compliment.

Why is that?

Do you think you're creative?  I hope so, because you ARE.  You were made that way.  Your natural state of being is to create.  We are hardwired to make and do and think uniquely.

Doubt me? Spend a day with a preschooler and report back.

For many of us, we're a long way from preschool and we've allowed our creative muscles to atrophy.  We think because we are out of shape that our muscles don't exist.  But that's a lie.  Flabby people can flex too, it's just harder to see.

So how do you get back in shape? The same way you prep for swim suit season;  you work at it.

Here's a few things that helped me tone up!

1. Deny your feelings

I neverfeel creative.

(Well, almost never. When I'm on the road , stuck someplace and desperately trying to get home, then I realize I can be pretty clever. But I digress...)

But, the heart is a fickle thing and feelings are a weak indicator of reality. Your heart tells you french fries are healthy and that your middle school crush was THE only one for you. We learn to ignore the heart's distractions in other areas of our lives, try turning down it's volume when it tells you you're not creative!

When you decide to act creative despite your feelings, your skills will improve.  Doing is what matters, not feelings.

2. Have a plan

No one gets in shape randomly; they always, always, always work a plan.  If you want to leverage your creative skills, if you want your innovation to take leaps forward, you have to have a plan as well.  Start by reading The Artist's Way, The Creative Habit, or Ignore Everybody and find the ideas that work for you.

Personally, I swear by the "morning page" habit from The Artist's Way, but there are plenty of techniques that work.  Find one you love then move to step three...

3. Practice consistently

There is no shame in trial and error, and practice gives you lots of opportunity to fail.  I blog consistently, try new recipes, and go on adventures mostly because so many of my attempts fail.

Repetition is your friend.

In his book, The Outliers, Malcom Gladwell  lands the idea, “practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good.”

While many people are content to live with flabby creative muscles, you don't have to.

Listen to the wee voice asking for the crayons back, and if you can't find a box of crayolas, highlighters will work!