Debunking myths

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Over the Christmas holiday, I had the chance to rent an audio book from my local library “Legends and Lies The Old West” By Bill O’Reilly (yes, that Bill O’Reilly!) It was fascinating to hear about the American cowboy and their exploits (some violent, to be sure, but some valiant). It was a book that purported to debunk the myths surrounding men such as Billy the Kid and Doc Holiday. I grew up in the 50’s (yes, I am a sexy senior citizen) and watched westerns on Saturday mornings. Like most Americans I  didn’t know much about the early years of the real villains until this book. I knew that the Lone Ranger was fiction but did not know who the character was based on.

Anyway, when I got to thinking about creativity I discovered that the inner demons that often strike when I am contemplating stepping out of my comfort zone, are fueled by myths and so I have set about debunking them for you. You probably have some of these pesky myths in your closet too.

When I first start to write, I sometimes have to remind myself that I am a creative person. Sometimes ideas don’t just come flowing out of me. It’s hard work to put pen to paper or rubber stamp to cardstock. Do I really want to write in a creativity journal about my inner demons? But I do want to write and so here goes (in no particular order):

There are several long-standing myths about creativity that I discovered. The first one, no surprise, is what experts call “The Eureka Myth”. Research shows that those flashing insights we get while in the shower or upon waking up are actually the result of thoughts that have been incubating in our fertile mind waiting to jump out. Well, that explains that, I think.

Another myth, which I find hard to give credence to, is the “Breed Myth.” Many people, myself included, feel that creative ability is a trait inherited from one’s family heritage or gene. I believe in hard work, like the next gal/guy but I think we are predisposed to crafting if we have an immediate family member (like Mom/Dad/Grandparent)  who show us by example how to write/craft. For instance, my mother was an artist and one of my grandparents was a teacher.

There’s another myth that talks about originality – the idea that a creative idea is proprietary to the person who thought of it, but new ideas are constantly showing up in the creative highway that are actually combinations of other ideas.

There are “Expert and Incentive” myths which go hand in hand. These two myths are based on the fact that an “expert” is the only one who can achieve results and that money increases motivation. While all of us like to be recognized for our creative endeavors and sometimes call ourselves experts I don’t believe that money is the ultimate motivator.

Likewise, the “Brainstorming” myth almost the opposite of the expert, can be helpful in the corporate world and it only has its place where there is a magazine, book or other business project to be brought forth. We creative types usually prefer to work alone and seek advice or recognition only if absolutely needed, as in “does this card look better with ribbon?” or “does this phrase help the reader understand the plot?”

Lastly, there is an interesting, yet flawed myth or group of myths that you have to be almost destitute to be able to promote creativity. I think all of us, are creative each in our own way. You are creative when you cook, when you design your homes, when you pick out color schemes for you outfits, when you choose which Facebook page groups to join. We all have our demons and we all face adversity in our creative world, but my advice is to shake those demons out of your way and explore our wonderful world. Let go of your fears and dare to soar.

‘Til next time,

~Sallie

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