What I Wish I Knew About Creativity at 20

What I Wish I Knew About Creativity at 20

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If only we could all go back in time to teach our younger selves what we know today.


Imagine you could go back in time and give your 20-year-old self a bit of advice on investing in the creative process, coming up with new ideas, and producing good, fun work.

What would you say?

I’ve thought a bit about this topic lately, as I reflect on how I’ve changed from the person I was in my twenties to the person I’ve become in my thirties. Creativity has become more and more important to me, both at work and at play. And the lessons I’ve learned along the way (and the ones I’m still learning) seem like something 20-year-old me would have liked to know.

You’re as creative as anyone

I’ve heard people tell me, “I’m just not that creative.” I don’t believe it. You are creative and ingenious and resourceful and brilliant. Creativity doesn’t have to be defined by the bounds of art or literature. Your creativity can reveal itself in so many different ways: parenting, relationships, wardrobe, problem-solving, ideas, shoelaces, Tumblrs, cooking.


Is the work you’re doing feeding your need for creativity? There are seasons of life when it might not. In those seasons, it’s so incredibly useful to have a creative outlet on which to rely.

Embrace constraints

Though it might seem counterintuitive, constraints can help you be even more creative. Embrace these constraints, whichever way they come—constraints on your time, your resources, your energy. If you’ve got 20 minutes to be creative, it might be all the time you need.

Twitter is a great example: creativity in 140 characters or fewer. Some take this to an even deeper level with six-word memoirs, summing up a bio in only six words.

Others will be better than you. And that’s a good thing

I sometimes get the urge to stop and drop everything when I see someone doing something I love better than I can do it. Turns out, it’s not best for me that I be the best.

Have you heard the phrase, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room”? I think this can hold true for the authors you read, the musicians you admire, and the creatives you follow. Set up shop in a room where you will be motivated to achieve great things and to grow your creativity.

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Dave Bowman Matty Burton Whybin\TBWA

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