Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The Secret to Being Creative

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Do you consider yourself creative?

Chances are you said no, but I want to convince you otherwise.

When the word “creative” is used, we imagine a beautiful painting. Or a cleverly designed building. Or a novel that is so well written it moves the deepest parts of our soul. All of which require creativity.

We equate creativity with gifts and aquired skill and recognition. And if this is what comes to mind, then not many can say yes.

But the word “creative” means so much less. And so much more.

It simply implies the act of creating. According to, creative can be thought of as “productive.”

photo by Mads Boeker (creative commons)

My friend, and poet, Reid Bush has spent his life being creative. He was cutting his grass one day and was thinking about a friend of his. Specifically, he wondered if his friend ever drew.

He considered what his friend might say if he asked him about it. And then he wrote this poem.

Oh sure you can,” I answered him right back.
All it takes is something that makes a mark,
something to make a mark on,
then moving your marker hand a little–
this way–or that.

That’s all.

Anybody can make a mark–
which is all the damn art gods ask.

But they do ask that.

I have used the same excuse many times.

  • I can’t draw.
  • I can’t write.
  • I can’t sculpt.
  • I can’t love so much that I end up giving all that I have away, even my very self.
  • I can’t create.
  • I can’t.

But, as Reid suggests, I can make a mark.

The mark might be crooked. The shadows around my mark might be a bit off. And the different marks together might not result in a recognizable shape.

But if I got up today and made a mark. Then I was creative.

The truth is that creativity has nothing to do with skill. It has nothing to do with beauty. It has nothing to do with how we feel about our creation. And everything with doing the work.

The secret to being creative is to stop saying “I can’t,” and to start doing the work.

(If that statement resonates with you, considering sharing it. You can tweet it by clicking here.)

Doing the work is all that is asked of us. And that is enough to make it beautiful.

What is Needed to Be Creative?

Reid reminds us that it doesn’t take much. A few supplies kept in every kindergarten classroom. A marker. A piece of paper. A hand. And then the will to move that hand.

But perhaps it takes just one thing more. The letting go of all the expectations we have for ourselves. The same expectations that make us think we can’t.

Are you creative? What keeps you from being so?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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21 Replies

  1. Jeanie Lou

    Appreciate the ideas and thoughts Jeremy but not the reference in poem to someone/thing other than the One True God nor to the curse word.

  2. I have never considered myself creative but I have always wanted to be.

    What I have found is that I do love to write and it has taken me years to be slightly good at it.

    What kept me from “trying” to be creative?

    Fear of not being very good.

    Years of not being very good.

    Still not being very good.

    Realizing that I may only ever be average or just below average.

    It has taken me 5 years and 5 blogs to realize that this writing journey has been for my benefit, not necessarily everyone else’s. I have become A LOT more introspective. I have become A LOT more cognizant of my surroundings. I look for A LOT more opportunities to learn so I can write about it.

    The sole purpose of creating art is not so everyone else can be entertained. It is so the originator of the art can be stretched and grow.

  3. jwen84

    Nice post!

  4. Wow! I really needed this today! Thank you for such a great post. I am writing & trying to set up my own small business. I really am creative! I was having a hard time finding the right job so, I’m making my own!

  5. That’s incredible Kirsten. Just keep going and solving problems and helping people.

  6. Thanks. The poem really moved me.

  7. Thanks for sharing this, James. I agree and that is the reason it is so important to make the mark isn’t it?

  8. The world needs more people trying to be creatives there is no doubt about it.

    Everyone’s art has the power to encourage a percentage of people out there. The more creatives we have the larger percentage of the population will be encouraged.

  9. Katharine Trauger

    What keeps me from being creative is that I don’t have any markers! (Kidding!)
    Actually, I am what they call creative. Yet I stop. Perfection in a very demanding taskmaster, demanding and discouraging. Fear of failure is the real bum hanging around the back door with his hand out. Do NOT hand HIM a marker!!
    I do know folks who are creative in other ways. My auto mechanic, who knows nothing about music, does know the perfect hum and pitch of an engine running right, and it is music to his ears. My gardener digs the soil until it is that beauteous texture he knows is just right; and he is right. And our local metal worker cannot carry a tune in a bucket, nor draw a straight line, but has turned our plumbing restoration into a real work of.
    There are so many degrees of creativity. I cannot remember a word of code to save me! But I love the one who can just click out my designs and truly cannot, himself, draw even the outline of a basketball court. But his lay-ups are poetry in motion, almost stillframe.
    Loved this post. Thanks!

  10. Katharine Trauger

    * Work of art. Sorry.

  11. Mark Ackley

    I love this story Jeremy. My mantra is to “clear your mind of can’t” and while I never considered myself creative, I’m very productive. If people can shed the word “can’t” from their brain, it’s a whole new world. Thanks!

  12. glory

    tnx for sharing this article and also tnx to God for making me read it cos i was about shuning it for another thing…..i av come to notice that i say i can`t so quick not to even give it a chance to think of the task laid before me …..i have learned that to be creative have nothing to do with our skills but the determination that i can do it.

  13. I’m not sure we always have to be determined. I think we just have to get started and drop all expectations. Once you begin, the real creativity part takes over.

  14. Reid recited his poem and I loved it. He nailed me and then he was kind enough to let me share it with you.

  15. Great examples, Katharine. Creativity can be anything. But it doesn’t happen when we do nothing.

  16. Thanks for sharing your opinion, Jeanie.

  17. I think I would like your friend Reid.

    I was talking with someone recently about how crowded my life has become. Seh asked me, “Where are you being creative these days?” I fumbled for an answer to explain my own lack of creativity, and she stopped me.

    “Your soul needs it,” she said.

  18. Yep, I definitely got suckerpunched by that story.

  19. Boy I needed that today. As my friend and I have just come back from our trip to the Serbian mental institution I’ve been praying that God will give me creativity in how to respond. I have so many ideas but I need to choose my first step. It may not be pretty but I’m determined to act! I think that’s the great thing about God, our one creative action in his hand can become something all together other, something we never could have created on our own!

  20. Great thoughts, Beck. I’m glad you had a good trip.

  21. I like this point, Marcus. Creating is like exercise for our souls.

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