Battling The Creative Crisis


Am I really creative?

One of my professors gave multiple prompts to the class and asked us to free write.

“To me, creativity means…”

“If I were really creative, I could…”

“If I were a famous writer, I would…”

Of course, I spent the majority of the time racking my brain for any words to come to me. I jotted down a few sentences to the question. When it was time to read I did not offer to read. (Very non-journalistic of me.)

Quite a lot of sentences stuck out to me, as my classmates read. And while I sat there, the question popped into my head:

Am I really creative?

The question left the second the class was over but now, more than 24 hours later, the question clings to me.

Am I really creative?

My classmates were able to string together beautiful sentences that instantly motivated me.

“I want to convey myself in a way that’s liberating.” — Kristen, in front of me.

“I want to illuminate.” — Jazz, next to me.

“Families present themselves like their life is a dollhouse but they’re just as broken and lifeless as the dolls.” Alayna, on the other side of the classroom.

Such beautiful words. written in such a short amount of time. And I wrote a measly, “If I were really creative, I could put my own thoughts into words without peeking over someone’s shoulder and stealing their words.”

Being self-deprecating is not the best way to present oneself I know, but it’s moments like those where I really question myself.

Am I really creative?

I’m trying to embark on a path where being creative gets you all the points. It’s not the boring, basically structured stories that make the headlines. It’s the stories that move the reader with gorgeous words strategically placed to move the reader.

If I’m not creative, I’m nothing.

So now, I question not only whether am I really creative, but am I actually a good writer?

For the prompt, I wrote “…creativity means to use every corner of your brain.” 

But if my mind is empty of ideas in every room, am I really creative or am I just a fraud?

Do I really want to be a writer or am I just clinging to one of the first words of encouragement I’ve ever heard?

Maybe I forgot the name, but I never forgot her hair color (blonde), the grade, (6th), and the expression I had the entire way home (a smile so big that my face began to hurt).

My 6th-grade English teacher thought that I, Diannah, was a good writer. Finally, out of all the other activities that I was lackluster in, I found something that I excelled at.

So from 6th grade to college, the sentiment stuck to me. And it’s the only thing I believed I truly succeeded at. Until Monday, when I was asked this question and my entire reality broke. 

I had become one of those people. Those who were given a compliment as an underdeveloped child, and clung onto it for every point of skill they’ve ever had.

My 6th-grade teacher told me I was good at something and it became the sole motivation for me to do it at all.

Am I really creative?

Do words come to me easily or do I spend hours staring at a blank paper, or screen before something finally appears? I have ideas, but when have they ever been executed?

Am I really creative?

Or am I just a shell of the child dreamer I used to be? 

I imagined dragons, house-sorted fairies, invisible monsters that only a fate-destined girl could see. And now I sit wishing just one sentence of those fairytales will come to me.

Another classmate, diagonal from me, said creatively comes in many forms. 

I think I’d like to believe in that definition. Is creativity how fast someone can come up with an idea? Although I may not be able to structure “palaces out of paragraphs” (Hamilton), I can still create sculptures out of sentences. Waterfalls out of words.

It’s fitting that I’d have a mini-crisis about my major just a few months before my expected graduation. Who knew a creative writing class could cause so much stress?

I do like to write. And it’s thanks to that unforgettable English teacher that I realized this passion. Maybe words don’t come out like water when someone mentions my favorite show, but give me time and I’ll produce something amazing.

Because I am creative.