After my first book, The Affluent Artist, came out, I ran into a fellow Little League parent who asked me a question that changed the direction of my intellectual life, “I heard you wrote a book for artists. What do you have to say to those of us who are not creative at all?” I didn’t have a good enough answer for him that day, and now, after about 4 years of seeking answers, I think I have the knowledge, language and explanation for my friend. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to talk about what I’ve figured out in some short and to the point blog posts. I’m interested in your comments and observations and I hope they help someone who needs a little boost.

“I’m not creative; at all!” Ever feel that way? I think we all have and a lot of times we are really saying things like, “I’m not artistic.” While artists can lay a pretty good claim to the supernatural power we call creativity, they don’t get to keep it all to themselves. Artists are creatives who have found a way to express themselves through a visual, written or oral medium. But there are plenty of creative people out there who can’t paint. Or sing. Or write.Or dance. Or sculpt. Or act…

Let’s start with a working definition of creativity, one I heisted from the noted author and educator, SIr Kenneth Robinson:

Creativity = Applied Imagination  

That makes it easier; doesn’t it? Unless you don’t have an imagination, we can all manifest, we can create (and if you don’t have an imagination you have a lot more to worry about than a lack of creativity). I’m not talking loaves and fishes or the Garden of Eden: I’m talking about making something happen that was first a thought. The fact is, nothing that ever existed wasn’t a thought first. Even the Bible says, “In the beginning, there was the word.” We all have the ability to imagine something and make it happen, we are creating experiences, writing our own stories, solving problems and experiencing being human.

So how do we get to a place where we think of ourselves as uncreative? Well; it turns out, its pretty complicated. The word “Creativity” is a pretty involved concept and I created a mind map to help us pinpoint where we can get bogged down. Like a lot of concepts, this one needs some explanation and I’m going to give you the short version over the next week or so. (The long version will probably be my Doctoral Thesis.)


It turns out that there are six important conditions to being creative, and each of them encompasses volumes of work. I know that without some some form of all six of these conditions in place we are going to get frustrated, fail, or not do our best creative work. That’s not to say all six, (Self, Inspiration, Environment, Knowledge and Action) have to be perfectly in place to create something; but they have to be present in some form. And; just as you can’t deny the presence of evil in the world, you can’t deny that there are hostile and dangerous barriers out there; just waiting to destroy our creations.

Take a look at the map and see if you can figure out where you need some help. Next time, I’ll start with the concept of self.

As James Taylor says,: “There’s a symphony inside you!”


2 Responses to But I’m Not Creative! Part 1

  • This is a great explanation and answer to that constant excuse! I don’t say that I am not creative because I am, but I am also very aware of my limitations. I can design quilts and write the patterns but don’t ask me to grow a garden or build or decorate something….Not that I can’t but it is much more difficult. We all have something that comes easier to us than others and that is our ‘creative’ area whether it be gardening or accounting.

    Look forward to the rest of your creative explanation!

    • Rick says:

      Thanks Robin! I’ve seen your work and you are very talented! Creativity isn’t about limitations, it is about expression, and you do express yourself!

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