Discover Your Creativity Like a Kid Does

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You are creative even if you don’t think you are. I’m going to show you some ways you can discover your creativity like a kid does and have fun in the process.

August 2023 Update: Wow, I wrote this seven years ago! This year is my year to discover my creativity again. At 61 I started a podcast and I’ve started painting.

Am I Creative?

We are all born creative.

For too long, creativity has been regarded as, sure it’s nice if you have it and all, but being creative has not been considered essential.

I want to offer that the creative part of you is one, something you have. It’s not reserved for a special few. The second thing is that it is not a nice little bonus for some, it is a fundamental quality that you and everyone else has.

One of the misconceptions about creativity is that it is reserved for artists. I don’t think so. From what I can tell after working with thousands of people, we all are drawn towards being creative.

Yet, this just isn’t encouraged. We’re all encouraged to be practical and learn real skills.

Sure this is good too. But having an active creative life is the secret sauce to everything being better!

But when you are cut off from your creative self—that is when life seems boring, rote, dry, and like something is missing.

What’s missing is this part of you! I know we all think there is a later and it can feel smart to push off creative pursuits until we retire, the kids are gone, or we finally have the house cleaned up.

So, I really want to make a case that your creativity is absolutely essential and that it is the key not to just having a more satisfying life, but can help your health, your relationships, and even your ability to earn more.

To me, creativity is a life force. Tapping into your own creativity is the difference between a stale life to a life of vibrancy.

Being creative = feeling alive

Picture of two women in studio painting with the words: How to discover your creativity like a kid does

Creating Versus Consuming

Creating is much harder than consuming.

When I say consuming, I mean activities such as reading, watching TV, listening to music. Even activities like researching, looking things up, calling a friend are also consuming. We take things in.

Creating means we are coming up with something new. We are using our mind to make something where something didn’t exist before.

Creating takes more brain energy than consuming and our brains love to conserve energy. It’s easier to tell ourselves we aren’t creative and not put forth the effort.

But consuming will never ever take the place of how amazing it is to create. Creating is an act that creates feelings of joy and aliveness. Not for others, though it might, but for yourself.

Life just feels better when you are creating.

I knew I was creative as a child and I believe that the best way of getting in the groove of creating is to do it like a child.

Children create because it’s fun. Children create because it is good training for life. They don’t know that but creating is a skill that never goes out of style.

How I Became Creative

My lessons in creativity began when I was a child as I was allowed to explore and play with whatever caught my interest.

I think some of those lessons are valid today in developing creativity and learning to trust yourself.

While you can’t go back in time—you can capture some of the benefits of thinking like a kid.

Being creative has brought me a lot of personal joy. My parents were really wonderful about reinforcing my love of all things creative and artistic.

I look back at some of the kooky crafty kits I got and I smile because I had so much fun with them. I’m also happy I didn’t get seriously hurt—but hey it was a different time!

My favorite was a kit that you baked parts to assemble into little bug monsters. The kit involved metal molds that you filled with goo and baked until the goo set. And then, you the kid, had to carefully get them out and let them cool.

Then you tried to put the pieces together to form rubbery bugs but the pieces would often tear into even smaller rubbery pieces. I am not sure why THAT toy isn’t on the market any more?

Another year it was a plastic tool, that had a little wire at the top that got hot enough that you could use it to cut through foam. You could cut foam into all sorts of shapes and then assemble the shapes into bigger things.

Chemistry sets? We had one and it involved “chemicals”, glass tubes, and metal spoons. Again, there was heat involved, this time the open flame of a candle. As did most girls, I had an Easy Bake, again with hot metal pans.

Yet, better than the store bought kits was the continual access to stuff to create with. I had the usual crayons, paper, glue, and scissors.

But I was also allowed to use my mom’s left over material from sewing and could do some basic things with needle, thread, and the sewing machine. I always had yarn, beads, and crochet hooks.

Even if you don't think you are creative, you can discover your creativity like a kid does and have fun in the process.

I also spent a lot of time outside playing and pretending.

I found my creativity in childhood. Looking back, while not all the zany gifts my parents gave me can be replicated, the basic processes can.

I did then and I still do follow these ways to discover your creativity like a child does.

How to Discover Your Creativity

Once we grow up, we often put aside the ways of childhood. But I believe that childhood often holds the keys to a satisfying life as an adult.

I also understand that what comes natural as a child can be daunting as an adult! I don’t remember every overthinking what to draw or paint as a kid. Faced with a blank paper or canvas now; I just freeze.

And worse, my efforts look childlike instead of like a trained artist’s work looks like.

We believe as adults that if we can’t do it well, we have no right doing it at all. This is not true.

It’s also true that our first efforts will often not measure up to what we have in mind. There is no getting around that part.

The only way to improve is to do.

So here are the ways that you can discover your own creativity.

Picture of author sara holding a painting she painted in art class

Do Things That are Fun

I believe the very best start of any creative project is FUN. It should seem like fun to work on it at first.

Sometimes fun is looked at with a little suspect. Things of value aren’t necessarily fun, right? Yet, some of my best ideas started out as something I thought would be fun.

And if you’re doing it as FUN, who cares how it turns out.

And as weird as this may sound, the thing you do for FUN, may not actually turn out to be your genius creative idea. But it can be the springboard for something amazing.

All I can say is do FUN things. Do things with your hands. Get dirty. Make messes. Play. You don’t have to do it every day but do it when you have an idea about something that sounds fun.

All to often, as adults, we don’t even THINK of fun things to do, much less, think we have time for them.

So, if you get an idea that sounds FUN, I really encourage you to go for it. Even if that FUN thing doesn’t lead to something profitable, it’s priming the pump for good things down the road.

It Won’t Be Perfect

Even as a kid, when I was working on something, I wanted it to turn out well. It didn’t always turn out the way I wanted.

However, if I was into it, (Remember the rubbery bug monsters?) I would spend hours working away at my project. I wasn’t afraid to make mistakes or do it poorly. Every attempt taught me something.

Every once in a while, I’ll get an idea for something, do it, and it turns out great. That’s every once in a while. A great while!

Usually, the first attempt is pretty basic and not-so-pretty. That includes writing as well. If you demand perfection on the first try, you will have trouble getting creative.

Creativity just doesn’t always work like that. It requires that you be a beginner. It requires that you take that leap of faith. To tell you the truth, when I get my best effort out, I still feel like it’s a little crude and childlike.

What I can tell you, is that if you just get willing to do whatever it is that you want to do, poorly at first, you, if you continue, you will improve.

If you keep working with that idea, it will get better. It will form into something you couldn’t even visualize at first. And you will often be pleasantly surprised.

Creativity requires, you getting in there and figuratively getting your hands dirty. It doesn’t give you the good stuff until you have put yourself into whatever it is you are working on.

That’s why so many people sit frustrated. They are stuck because they can’t figure out how to do something amazing right away.

They want their idea delivered to them fully formed, with a predictable result, and then be able to implement it. It just doesn’t work like that.

Okay, maybe that happens for some people can but they probably aren’t reading this.

However, it does work to get in there and go with your idea and do it however you can. Sometimes you will get ideas as you are working on it.

Sometimes the improvements will come the next day or the next month. I don’t pretend to understand the timing of it at all. But I do my best to work with it and honestly, it never fails.

Several years back, I decided to make my own Christmas cards. I made a collage angel, scanned it, and printed it out. Talk about primitive! Yet from that first collage, came a series of artwork that I still love to this day.

Doing something, no matter how badly at first, always works out. Sometimes, I realize that it’s going nowhere and I abandon it.

Usually though, I end up with something that makes me very happy and surprised. Because as much as I wish creativity was a systematic and linear process—it isn’t for me.

Try Different Things

I never tried to lock myself into anything as a kid. I loved doing new things. With limited time on my hand as an adult, I am less likely to try new things. Especially if I can’t see a reason to do them.

Yes, doing new things directly feeds into the creative pipeline.

Not every new thing you do will lead to profit. However, I believe that being open to new things and experiencing new things are what can give you unexpected creative ideas.

You just never know what will lead to what with creativity. That’s why I encourage myself and others to try different things.

Keep Going Even When it Sucks

Trying your hand at creative ventures can really feel bad at first. I have so much mind drama over every creative thing I try.

When I first started writing eight years ago; it was painful. I thought everything I wrote was terrible and I agonized over publishing it.

At the moment, eight years later, writing seems like a breeze. I even think I’m good at it. Heck, I make a living from it.

To keep me nice and uncomfortable, I started a podcast. I have been in full mental drama for months. I am also learning to paint, which for the most part means looking at an empty canvas and my paints sadly sitting there.

So, why keep going forward when every step just feels like misery?

Here’s the short answer. Creating something is the most incredible feeling in the world. It’s a feeling you can’t get by consuming content, by reading, by watching, or by listening.

You only get this sublime feeling by jumping in and making something where nothing existed before.

Are You Creative?

I was a college advisor and career counselor for 10 years as well as being a trained counselor. I’ve talked to a lot of people and most people don’t think they are creative. At all.

Yet, through getting to know my students, I discovered they were all creative. We often don’t recognize creativity in ourselves. Or we don’t think our creativity is as valuable as other people’s.

Here’s what you need to know. You are creative.

Everyone has some kind of creativity and that it just needs encouragement and permission to come out. I’m giving you that! I believe in you and I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Discover Your Creativity Like a Kid Does
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  1. Susan @ Babygearland on August 29, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Agree with you. Being childlike and with the curiosity, we can see the beauty in everything. Trying new things is a lot of fun. Everyone has creativity in their way. Btw, your bug monter toy sounds great.

  2. Tawnya on July 20, 2016 at 9:12 am

    I LOVE THIS POST!!!! I am an artistic person but, the creative part is what restrains ALL of my efforts… the point that I just don’t do any art period. So, THANK YOU for encouraging me that I’m not the only one and that I need to let go of my fears of imperfection and insecurities and just CREATE! Make SOMETHING……..ANYTHING happen!

    • Sara on July 20, 2016 at 10:30 am

      Absolutely! You go Tawnya. You’ll surprise even yourself when you allow yourself to create. Thanks for the great comment. Feel free to come back and let me know how it goes.

  3. Daria on July 5, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    I really love this post. I am a work first, play later kind of person-which often means I end up not having as much fun as I should. Also, I just tend towards being a perfectionist. (Maybe that’s why I am an organizer.) But there is freedom in doing things poorly. I think I’ll add a category “what I did poorly” to my journal 🙂

    • Sara on July 6, 2016 at 5:45 am

      Thank you Daria. Your comment about doing it poorly is so true! That theme is very much on my mind these days and is in no less than two posts I’m working on now. I used it in reference to creativity but I’m beginning to think it refers to pretty much everything in life. If you can just get over being afraid to do something poorly at first, you open yourself up to so much more in life. Again–thanks for the comment!

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