My son is 4 and yet currently knows more creativity that I will ever know again in my life time. The plus side of this is that he recently taught me a great lesson about what creativity means that I thought I’d share with you. I hope it provides you with the same epiphany it bought me!
LEGO Mixels are the current flavour of the month in our house, now if you haven’t come across them they are groups of 3 LEGO characters that you can then combine into a Mega Max Mixel and my son now probably owns around a million of these characters (not hyperbole). So, what does this have to do with creativity?
Well one, rainy, Sunday morning out come the Mixels. My son has now built these things repeatedly, multiple times, and designs his own and mixes and matches many of them together in ever more complicated patterns. Watching him on this fateful day it suddenly dawned on me that I was watching pure creation in progress.
I don’t know about you but if I get an idea for something, somewhere, in the first thoughts I have about it are probably “oh no, that’ll be rubbish” or I’ll never get the idea off the ground because I am too bound by the parameters of perfection. As an adult, you become acutely aware of criticism, both your own and the external worlds, and that can lead you to question what you are creating to the point where you end up not creating anything at all.
In my son’s head though, it was clear he wasn’t suffering from those same doubtful thoughts and you know what the result was? He created some truly amazing new characters! Sure, some of the legs didn’t match or the construction was a little wonky but the point is he had created something. During building he so obviously had a clear vision of what it was he was trying to create and ploughed forward. Now he has character models that he can further improve on, develop and use to create even greater things, whereas I’d still be sat there with a box of LEGO copying whatever is on the box for fear of creating something rubbish.
The point here is that you can’t let the pursuit of perfection or the thoughts of inevitable criticism stop you from creating. Sure, on first pass what you create might not be exactly what you wanted or were aiming for but you’ll have learnt something, have a new idea you can develop further and most importantly you will have actually created.
There is an important part of being creative, known as the “gap”. It’s explained beautifully in this video here:
So, go out and create something, anything, it doesn’t matter, just play again as a child and do what you want to do because you enjoy it.