You are a creative genius (or could be)

You might not think you’re creative. You might think that you don’t have that special spark that it takes to write moving music, paint beautiful pictures, or craft a great story.

You’re wrong.

Human beings were made to create new things. Have you ever had a dream that felt so real that you didn’t know you were dreaming? Or one so terrifyingly real that you breathed a huge sigh of relief when you woke up? Remembering dreams is hard, but if you think about a dream immediately after waking, when it’s freshest, you realize that it was a strange amalgam of reality and fantasy. Details and people were familiar as you saw them, but strange in retrospect. And the unfolding story was probably unusual or even bizarre.

Where did that dream come from? It never happened in real life, those events and places and people never existed, at least not in that unique combination. Who created that rich, interactive experience?


Your brain has almost infinite creative capacity, and can create the rich interwoven tapestry of entire worlds in real-time, filling in every empty space with objects of mundanity, beauty, or terror. That’s what happens when you dream: your brain creates whole worlds on the fly, Inception-style.

So if some part of your brain has this rich creative capacity, why can’t you “be more creative”? Why can’t you paint a picture with beauty to match the canvas your brain fills instantly during your dreams?

Two things hold you back from being a creative genius:

First, you haven’t learned to be one. Creativity is something that we all have. But the ability to harness that creativity is a skill. And like any skill, it comes easier for some people than others. Some have a natural ability to draw or write, while others have to learn the skill through repeated effort. But the underlying creativity is there for all of us, simmering below the surface, in our subconscious.

This isn’t to say that everyone’s creativity is the same…our creative “muse” is limited in its capacity by access to the raw materials it has to work with, the experiences, emotions, and ideas that have informed our subconscious throughout our lives.

The second thing that holds you back is fear. Aside from the issue of the “technical” skills that limit the manifestation of our creative capacity, a more powerful repressive force is what we believe about ourselves.

We fear criticism and rejection from others, and from ourselves. We describe ourselves as “not creative” because then we are freed from the pain of any rejection of a creative work we produce. And make no mistake: most of us are our own worst critics. We discard our early shallow works so quickly and with such disgust that we never learn how to pull the deeper ones from our subconscious.

If you knew that your works of creation, no matter how rudimentary, would be met with geniune praise and enthusiasm from your peers (and yourself), how much more likely would you be to try?