Tuesday, June 13, 2006

You Don't Have to be Creative...Not the Way You Think

I often hear people say, "I wish I were creative" or "I wish I were crafty". (Crafty is meant here in the arts and crafts sense rather than the trickster sense). And here's the thing - you don't have to be. Certainly having an artistic ability or an artistic eye can be infinitely useful. I have great respect for people who are able to take some paint or some clay and turn it into something fascinating.

But I rarely hear people bemoaning their lack of creativity while standing in an art gallery. (I'm sure there are many people thinking it, but I digress again). Typically the lack of creativity and craftiness follows looking at something that someone else has created - be it a hand knitted scarf, a quilt or a well-decorated pie.

Don't get me wrong there are people who can look in a kitchen cabinet or a pile of material and see greatness. But there are many of us who primarily follow directions well. I'm not saying there's not art to some of my cooking or knitting or beading. But a lot of it is following directions. And certainly there are times when I adjust, tweak or altogether abandon the directions. And you could choose to view that as artistic or you could choose to view that as risky.

So what I'm getting at here is the semantics surrounding creative pursuits often make people who feel they are right-brained feel they cannot really be creative. You may have more options if you are able to think outside the box - or in this case the pattern - but it is not required.

One of the bold statements I made when I took up knitting was that I just wanted something relaxing to do that I didn't have to think about. (Can you hear the knitters laughing at me?) I wasn't going to make hard stuff - like clothes (look below to see how long that lasted). I just wanted something mindless. (I'll pause to let the knitters out there recover from that one).

I didn't know that knitting - much like cooking - required math skills. There are stitch counts and repeats and gauge counts. Especially if, as I often do, you don't buy the yarn they have helpfully suggested on the pattern. I didn't realize that if I wanted to do anything with a pattern (which I quickly did) I needed to count rows. That I needed to make choices (much like I do in work) - did I want it done fast or done right. There was a fabulous article in Knitty (which I will hopefully be able to find and link directly to) about how the way you knit reflects your personality. And it does. So knitting (and other crafts - scrapbooking, cooking, jewelry making, etc) can be done by analytical people, perfectionist people, math-y people, and all other kinds of people.

Now of course you may not have any unfulfilled desire to be crafty, or craftier than you are right now. But - if you do - then go for it. Don't let your right-brain-ness hold you back (in fact, as I said, its really not holding you back, so go for it!)