Thoughts on Creativity (at 2 AM)

The brain is a funny thing.

Growing up, I was “the creative one.” If you asked people about me, that’s one of the first things they’d be likely to say (that, or “the smart one”…which sounds arrogant to say, but you’ll note it wasn’t “the athletic one,” “the cute one,” or “the cool one,” so it all balances out, lol).

Then, life happened, as it tends to do. I had a more than usually winding path, living in five different states and two different countries in the course of about ten years or so. I don’t regret any of it, but it was kind of a lot, and the last chunk of it beat me up a little. After that came awesome things like finishing college and getting married and having a house like a real grown-up person (crazy!). Through all of that, an odd thing occurred.

I decided I was not, in fact, creative. All my ideas were unoriginal. I had no imagination, and all I could do was slightly tweak ideas that real creative people had already birthed. Silly, isn’t it? Any lessening of creativity was born of circumstances (depression, and stress, and being too busy to stop and think, tend to suck the creativity out of you), but instead of recognizing that, I saw it as an inherent quality of my being. I stopped writing, or doing anything else that would reveal the lack of creativity I felt.

Fun facts: a) there are very few, if any, completely original ideas left in the world, b) expecting to produce only those magic unicorn ideas is pretty unrealistic, and c) the best way to stop having creative ideas is to stop trying to have creative ideas.

So, fast forward to now. Over the last year or so, life has finally chilled out a little (at least for the moment), and awesome people in my life heard me say “I’m not creative” and responded with, “…you’re joking, right?” And so, after twenty years of being so afraid to fail at writing, that I twisted my brain around enough to avoid even the attempt…I am finally working on being the thing I knew I wanted to be when I was five years old (a writer).

(So much for being “the smart one;” sometimes I’m a little slow.)

So why am I writing this at 2 AM?

It would appear that my brain didn’t actually stop having creative ideas over all those years. The creativity neurons, despite their ill treatment, made the best of their small apartment in the low-rent district of my brain, and kept filling up storage spaces with all the ideas I didn’t believe I was having.

And when I finally came apologetically knocking on their door, offering to move them to a nice riverfront estate, those creativity neurons were not only forgiving, but delighted. Delighted enough that they immediately rushed to all the storage spaces, and unloaded twenty years of “Oh HEY, what about THIS?!?” right into the central town square of my brain.

I can’t be angry at them; I’m thrilled those creativity sparks don’t resent all my years of neglect and still have that bubbly excitement and enthusiasm.

…that said…it would, you know, be sort of nice if they would consider maybe letting me sleep, now and then.

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