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    Think you’re not creative? Search for these 3 signals

    You've been told you're not creative, but if you follow these 3 signals, I beg to differ.

    By Kieran Drew

    Creativity comes naturally to many people.

    Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.

    My creative journey ground to a halt when I was 13. I still remember the sting of shame as my art teacher mocked my project in front of the class, telling me to stick to Maths and Science.

    Perhaps she was right—a cow with machine gun udders is hardly Da Vincian genius. But Supercow could’ve been the next Marvel hero, stopped by a pessimistic adult who was probably just having a shitty day.

    I stopped being creative for the next 15 years.

    But since starting writing, I’ve worked hard to reverse that decision. Creativity is the most important skill in an age of almost infinite leverage.

    So today, I want to give you three signals to follow for your creative genius.

    What happened to your creativity?

    My art teacher was just a facet of a wider problem: schools stamp out your creative spark.

    In the 1950s, NASA began monitoring 1,600 children in a school headstart program. 98% of them had ‘creative genius potential’ at 3-5 years old. By adulthood, only 2% had.

    That was 70 years ago, but education has suffered from inertia since the Industrial Age—their job is to churn out factory workers, not creative workers. You’re taught to follow rules, tick boxes, and ask no questions.

    This leads me to an important point:

    You must approach creativity with optimism.

    Whatever you think about yourself, you eventually prove. Believe you’re not creative and you won’t be. Plus, you’re in for a rough ride. Ignoring the outliers, you’re about to work hard for months or years with little recognition or reward.

    Two tips to help.

    First, realise that all good things take time (and the best things take longer). The start is supposed to suck, the beginner’s advantage is that few people are watching and even fewer people care. It’s only when you get good that the world pays attention.

    Second, pick one creative outlet.

    People think creativity is a magic switch you flick on and off, but it’s more like a rusty fire hydrant you must wrestle with to get even a drop of juice. But if you keep applying pressure, ideas will eventually burst out of you.

    This is much harder if you spread too thin.

    You’re looking for a skill that you enjoy, have natural ability for, and that can be used to serve other people.

    I’d worry less about the final point—you can scale any niche obsession online. But natural ability is important. You don’t have to be great, but you must have the potential to be great.

    Which leads us to our first signal.

    Signal 1: Childhood passion

    I kept my writing hobby a secret because I worried about what my friends and family would think. But when I finally told my mum I wanted to quit dentistry to write online, she laughed her warm Irish cackle and said she wasn’t surprised.

    It turns out that when I was 6 years old, I used to scuttle up to my room after school and write stories for fun. This explains my love for words (and my awkward fumbling through High School—being social was not my forte).

    But I didn’t remember this, and you might not either.

    As we age, we break up with our childlike passions. But the relationship is worth rekindling. Why? Because you enjoyed these things before incentives like status and success got involved. Ironically, online, pursuing your passion is a smarter route to achieving both.

    Speak to people who knew you as a kid—what made you weird?

    They might not tell you exactly what you’ll love now, but they can give you an idea. If you were visual you might be brilliant at YouTube. If you were social you might be great at podcasting.

    The key is to be open to exploring.

    But what are you searching for?

    Signal 2: Flow

    Flow is a blissful state where the external world melts away as you immerse yourself in your work.

    You’ve likely experienced it in some shape or form. If you haven’t, you soon will. For example, I only discovered writing after deciding to be a stand-up comedian. I thought making people laugh sounded much better than drilling teeth, but only after 3 months of joke writing did I realise the mornings I wrote were special.

    I quit the crappy jokes and began blogging (badly). This was the start of my writing career. My only regret was not paying attention to the signal earlier (I also enjoyed writing essays at university).

    So, when does time disappear for you?

    Or, put another way, what feels like play but looks like work?

    It’s worth remembering: nobody can compete with you if you’re having fun. Plus, all results come from compounding, which requires patience and persistence—if you enjoy what you do before the results roll in, you’ll be unstoppable when they do.

    When searching for flow, the key is to follow your curiosity.

    Signal 3: Curiosity

    The area in your brain responsible for curiosity sits snuggly next to the area responsible for hunger. This explains our insatiable drive to innovate.

    Curiosity is both the north star for a great career and the fuel for your creative engine. What fascinates you now is a good signal for where to start. But as you build, it’s also the guidepost for where to go. The exciting part online is that you can build however the hell you want.

    Letting curiosity be your guide is a great way to carve a unique path for people to follow.

    How to be more curious is an essay in itself, but I’ll give you two tips.

    First, you need space to think.

    Society’s biggest mistake was winning the war against boredom. These days, sitting for 20 minutes without distraction is a modern-day miracle. People think they’re not curious, but really, they’re just not giving their minds a chance to explore (my secret is long walks).

    Second, fall in love with the word ‘why’.

    I never used to be curious, but now I’m annoyingly so. I have a personal rule to ask why for anything I don’t understand – no matter how silly. Our default state is to shy away from looking stupid, but you don’t learn about the world by mistake.

    Plus, we now have the most patient and knowledgeable teacher to ever exist at our fingertips: ChatGPT.

    twitter profile avatar
    Kieran Drew
    Twitter Logo
    8:24 AM • Dec 24, 2022

    Begin broad, then dig deep

    Searching for signal is part of the process, but trust me:

    You don’t ‘find’ your creative genius.

    You earn it.

    Signals are just sparks. It’s your job to get the fire burning by breathing energy into your creative pursuits. My advice is to do this in public. Work in 90 day sprints—think of yourself like a scientist running experiments.

    At the end of each period, ask:

    • What did I enjoy?
    • What didn't I enjoy?
    • Where can I add my unique spin?

    I got this strategy from Bruce Lee’s Striking Thoughts.

    On creativity, he says, "Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what. is uniquely your own." It’s helped me massively with direction, so hopefully, it will with you, too.

    And when you find your thing, be brave enough to go all in.

    Great things happen when you do.


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    Kieran Drew

    About Kieran

    Ex dentist, current writer, future Onlyfans star · Sharing what I learn about writing well, thinking clearly, and building an online business