Creativity. You either have it or you don’t. Or maybe you do but it grows with you. It’s always been said that children have more imagination, but I’m finding I’m more creative as an adult than I ever was as a child. How does creativity in childhood and adulthood compare?
As a child I couldn’t write stories or poetry. I read loads, having numerous books on the go at once. But ask me to write a story and I couldn’t. The same with poetry, I could understand them but really struggled if I had to write a poem in school. When it came to stories, at primary school when we were tasked with writing a story and making it into a book, I would just plagiarise one of my books I had. Obviously the teacher at the time either didn’t actually read the stories we wrote, or had never read any of the Jill’s pony club series.
I’ve never thought of myself as a creative person. I’ve never been particularly interested in, and certainly couldn’t really draw or paint. I used to trace cartoons to make Christmas card entries, and even my mum used to step in when I struggled with my art homework at secondary school.
My creativity was limited to playing music (couldn’t compose music and was terrible at improvisation), and dance (was rubbish at free dance, probably due to being self conscious). But now looking back I think a lot of it was down to confidence. Or more likely perfectionism and not wanting to look a fool in getting something wrong, because I was confident in what I was good at. But I didn’t like to fail.
I think some children are like that, and N is the same as I was. He’s overconfident in some things (in that very unhumble way that children have), but doesn’t like trying new things or doing activities he knows he’s not keen on or isn’t so good at. If he knows he might have to put something down on paper that isn’t very good, he’d rather not do it. And also doesn’t want to spend time dwelling and going back over something to improve it. It’s like saying the first attempt wasn’t very good, rather than thinking, ‘it was a good start but how can we make it even better’.
Creativity in other people
We often look at others and judge ourselves against their ability. Or admire those who have blatant creativity in all that they do. Where it comes naturally to them. But sometimes others think you’re creative, when you don’t think that at all.
I used to do a few crafts. I made beaded jewellery and greetings cards. Everyone would say ‘ooh you’re so creative’ when I thought of it as less creative and more the ability to be able to put a few shapes and sizes together. It was more the process for me, and there was a way of doing it. Rather than seeing it as a creative process and riot of colours.
So creativity is definitely different for everyone. And maybe we should lighten up about what we think of ourselves and how we can be more ‘creative’.
During lockdown, lots of people are taking up new crafts and hobbies. They’re discovering new things they’re good at (or just enjoy). But I’ve certainly discovered that I can do poetry. Thanks to home schooling.
Creativity can change. Rather than being a child who could have great imagination, mine has increased since having a child.
I don’t know that it has really increased, but maybe now I don’t care. I don’t need to be perfect. I just need to accept that being perfect isn’t needed, and that actually just having a go is sometimes fine, and perfectly valid, especially when encouraging children to do creative things.
Increasing imagination since children
If I need to tell N a story, or encourage him to embellish or start off a tale, I can do that. And crikey, I’m pretty good at going off on a tangent and creating a made web of characters and plot. He might look at me like I’m nuts, but hey, I’m having fun just spouting out absolute rubbish that could be a story if it was worked on.
Children don’t care whether something makes sense or not. They just like a fun story, a laugh, and something that sounds fantastical.
I can write poetry…if there’s a framework and it can be a fairly basic key stage 2 poem. I’d never heard of an acrostic poem before, but I have to say that N’s my attempt at a VOLCANO poem was pretty spectacular.
If N needs to make something and is looking blank because he can’t think what to do, I can think on my feet and throw out a whole load of solutions.
It’s about having a go, and not caring what people think. Because I can do that with my opinions and blog writing, but when it comes to make up stories and imagining fictional beings, I can throw some ideas out there like anyone else.
Even if N does think my ideas are madness sometimes (always).
If my being freer and able to try being creative, then maybe it will encourage him to loosen up and not worry so much about whether something is wrong or right. That it’s important to give it a go, because sometimes things will work out and you could end up with a masterpiece.
How do you feel about creativity? Do you think you have changed since having children?