Discover more from Massive Creativity
The Creative Impulse
The creative impulse can be defined as an innate and compelling drive within an individual to generate some idea or vision that didn’t exist in the world 5 seconds ago. It can be somewhat of an enigma — where and when these impulses come from… and also a mystery why these impulses seem to only manifest within certain “creative” individuals, but not others. Which also begs the question… what exactly IS a “creative” individual? So many questions! Well let’s try and break things down.
I often wonder… is the creative impulse innate to ALL humans or just a select breed? (And if just a select breed, why just them?) Feel free to disagree with me on this, but… it’s pretty safe to say that there are creative people in the world and there are non-creative people. And I don’t make that declaration as an arrogant, elitist creative person looking down on non-creative people. Quite the contrary, I’ve found that people actually self-identify as not being creative, regardless of whatever label I put on them.
Which gets me thinking… why would someone choose to identify as being non-creative? Isn’t that sort of like slinking into an insult, accepting a lesser-than persona? Seems rather sad, and defeatist.
Are they really truly incapable of being creative, or is their diminutive self-appraisal the byproduct of some childhood trauma (however minor)… perhaps a stern art teacher said they had no talent at age 7, or a parent carelessly threw away their precious doodle that had been proudly magnetized to the fridge.
Maybe they remember the trauma vividly, or maybe not… perhaps it was something subtly absorbed deep into their psyche during formative years, emerging time to time as an interior voice of doubt and hesitation that whispers in the mind: “You are not creative. You’re not good at this, so don’t bother trying.”
Or perhaps during those formative years it was the particular culture that a child grew up in. As a 1st-generation Indian American I can personally attest to the fact that creativity was NEVER encouraged in me (by my parents, at least). Nope. The proper path for “success” was to be an engineer or doctor (or maybe a lawyer), but a career in the arts? Never.
There are even MORE potential reasons why people end up as “non-creative” individuals. Consider this. Traditionally in middle school and high school… who’s been more likely to be picked on and ostracized… the flamboyant individual who marches to the beat of their own drum (perhaps with a tacky style but it is uniquely theirs) or… the girls and boys who adhere to current fashion trends and blend in with all the other kids? Obviously (in general) it’s smoother sailing for the latter.
And now perhaps the biggest elephant in the room… in America (and I suppose the entire world), money talks. And historically (especially amongst Asian immigrant parents such as mine), when people think about getting into some creative profession, they often imagine (with their limited imaginations) the classic starving artist trope.
This seems like a rather traditional perspective, which (fortunately?) may be fading in recent years due to the rise of professions like “YouTuber” or “Influencer”, especially amongst younger generations. Ask a little kid these days what they want to be when they grow up, and you’re MUCH more likely to hear them proclaim something like “I want to be TikTok famous!” than saying they want to be an astronaut, scientist, engineer, etc. [Side note: This youthful trend may likely be more about egotism and desire for attention than actual creativity, but more on that another day.]
There is certainly more allure to creative professions in the 2020s than in previous eras due to (potential) profitability (and also the availability of powerful software and tools that make it easier for anyone to produce more/better creative output). So perhaps as time unfolds, there will be fewer stumbling blocks that prevent people from embracing creativity in their life (whether they get into a creative field or not).
I’d like to make the rather idiosyncratic assertion that merely having a creative profession does not necessarily mean you’re truly more creative than someone in a non-creative profession. For example, it IS possible (however unlikely) for a doctor or accountant to actually be more creative than a graphic designer or musician.
As I stated at the very beginning, the creative impulse is largely about innovation, about bringing something new into the world that didn’t exist 5 seconds ago (whether it’s a silly idea for a comic book strip or a groundbreaking method of charging batteries). As I also mentioned, it can often be enigmatic how these novel ideas come to us… although I do believe we can ALL choose to foster these creative impulses or relegate them into oblivion. If you continually squash creative impulses that come to you, it seems a reasonable conclusion that your mind may eventually stop generating these ideas altogether. I believe this is largely how people end up as truly “non-creative” (and willingly embracing that moniker). There’s a lot that can be extracted from these assertions…
At some point in our lives, we’ve ALL had creative impulses.
Creativity is for EVERYONE (regardless of profession). It can be therapeutic and life-enriching (both for your personal benefit as well as for society as a whole).
Regardless of background, trauma, culture, and societal influences, to some degree, being a truly “creative” person is a choice. Or perhaps more accurately, it is a lifelong SERIES of choices that lead us one way or another (toward creativity or away from it).
If your creativity is continually rewarded (both externally and internally), you are far more likely to be creative every day, in any given situation.
If you don’t feed your creative impulses, you’ll likely experience fewer and fewer such impulses throughout your life.
So as you’re reading this essay today (especially for those of you who identify as “non-creative”), I encourage you to reflect on your life’s story — your unique amalgam of upbringing, trauma, education, relationships, experiences, profession, and so forth — and start putting together the pieces of your existence to realize how you’ve ended up as the person you are today. Regardless of where you are on the creative spectrum (or your overall level of life happiness/satisfaction) and of course the past is the past (what’s done is done), but… the rest of your life is certainly not set in stone. As long as you’re still still breathing, today is a new day with new opportunities to feed (not squelch) your creative impulses. If you feed them, they will grow. That is, if that’s something you’re interested in having happen.
And along those lines… if you’re interested in integrating more creativity into your life, definitely subscribe to this Substack.
In addition to essays like today’s, MASSIVE CREATIVITY will be a rather unique publication in the sense that it’s going to be far more than just *words*. In the coming months I’ll be creating stimulating audio/visual content and in-depth tutorials, as well as curating inspiration and resources that empower you in your creative pursuits, regardless of where you are on the creativity spectrum or what your level of expertise is. Whether expert or novice, there’s always room for growth and exploration. With new ideas and new technologies continually emerging, let’s shape the future that’s upon us and move forward together in this brave new world.
*Also, be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel… which will be the primary source for all in-depth tutorials, reviews, and tips & tricks videos I’ll be making as we wrap up 2023 and enter into 2024… https://youtube.com/jaykaslo