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Creative From Birth |
Creative writings of MAYRA•YADIR, an artist who writes & a writer who practices art. Site includes resources & inspiration for creative writers seeking to expand and cultivate their creativity and stretch further their self expression.
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Creative From Birth

We are creative beings.

Latent or active, our creative skills are with us from the time we’re born through the breadth of our lifetimes.

Moreover …

Yet swaths of people around the world are convinced they weren’t “born creative” and/or are “not creative.”

Dictionaries don’t dispel that notion.

Generally, it’s been my experience that people are quick to state or believe they lack creative skill.

I often think this happens, in part, because there’s a broad belief that in order to “really be creative,” you must possess some kind of artistic or aesthetic ability.

Sometimes, misguided ideas like these are inadvertently emphasized by dictionary definitions for the word “creative,” which underscore the artistic side of creativity meaning(s) in their explanations and examples; such as:

  • Oxford Language: “relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.
  • Cambridge Dictionary: “producing or using original and unusual ideas; as in a creative designer”
  • Collins Dictionary: “A creative person has the ability to invent and develop original ideas, especially in the arts.”

Drawing pictures is our first creative language.

What adults who deny or dismiss their creativity forget or don’t realize, however, is that they possessed artistic ability long before most ever uttered their first words as children.

That’s because the ability to communicate and express ourselves through the act of drawing came to most of us well before we could verbalize language.
American cartoonist Lynda Barry

American cartoonist Lynda Barry

In her book, Syllabus, American cartoonist Lynda Barry supports this idea by explaining that both music and drawing preceded our use of oral language.

In terms of our drawing activities as children, Barry points out drawing is:

“… one of our oldest natural and spontaneous languages.”

When we draw as adults, Barry adds, we are expressing:

“…a language from another part of” ourselves.

What other part could that be?

I believe the implication here is from that of our childhoods.

Thus, we begin our creative journeys from a “drawing pictures” standpoint.

Children's Drawings book by Maureen CoxWhy single out drawing pictures?

While “creative” and “creativity” are not limited to artistic skill, artistic skill itself is also not limited to drawing.

So then why emphasize drawing pictures?

As Dr. Maureen Cox, Emeritus Faculty member of the Department of Psychology for York University, explains in her book Children’s Drawings, limiting our focus to drawing in childhood over other pictorial arts (such as painting) is practical for the following reasons:

  1. most children engage in drawing than in another other pictorial activity;
  2. pencils, crayons and paper are readily available in nurseries, schools, and most homes;
  3. children can easily draw without adult assistance;
  4. there’s limited preparation time required for drawing; and
  5. good drawing skills are arguably the basis for all the pictorial arts.

The fork in the drawing road

As we grow up, some of us keep on drawing pictures and others stop altogether.

Those who do go on drawing pictures may also venture toward other creativity-related practices, refining and expanding their creative skills along the way.

Yet for those who stop drawing pictures entirely do so for a number of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • they believe drawing pictures is kid stuff, thus they outgrow their drawing interests;
  • educational institutions focus, prize, and invest more in the sciences and in math than they do in the “frills of art;” and
  • folks in general do not view the ability to draw pictures as a vital or necessary life skill.

Cox speaks to these points and questions why an activity which was educationally valued in early childhood should eventually peter out:

“The charm fades and by late childhood and early adolescence, most children become reluctant to draw. Their efforts are often fussy and laboured, with much use of the ruler and the eraser in evidence. Eventually, they give up altogether.”

And of adults, Cox adds:

“Indeed, if you ask ordinary adults to draw a picture you will find that most of them are unwilling, usually claiming that they are no good at drawing. They are often mildly embarrassed, perhaps apologetic, and almost certainly dismissive of their own efforts.”
Various charcoal thumbnail sketches by creative writer-designer MAYRA YADIR

The objects in each of these charcoal sketches are (mostly) the same but their presentation differs with each rendering. The latter point is at the crux of what creative skill is all about; imagination and development of original ideas (artistic or not).

How does any of this “drawing pictures” stuff relate to creative writing?

With the above contexts in mind, here’s my take:

If drawing truly is one of our shared and most natural, spontaneous first languages, then any capacity for creative writing would be an organic extension of those initial language fundamentals.

Does this mean, then, that I’m I advocating for creative writers to go start drawing or improve their drawing skills?

Not technically.

Rather, I’m encouraging creative writers to “bring drawing back” into their lives; a side perhaps that’s been buried, dismissed, or long forgotten. This is — as Barry differentiates in her Syllabus book — different than teaching someone to draw.

3 steps to reconnect with your “drawing pictures” side

If you’re a creative writer who does draw pictures, then keep on keeping on!

After all, practice does make perfect … or so they say.

But if you’re a creative writer who, like so many others, feels unable or reluctant to practice drawing, you can still bring drawing back into your creative life in the following three, low hanging fruit ways:

1) Create a drawing collection board on Pinterest
Use this board to pin drawings that call your attention and appeal to your mind, eyes, and heart for whatever creative reason(s).

2) Start a children’s artwork binder or notebook.
If you have young children, or if you have access to little nieces, nephews, or neighborhood kids etc., start your own collection of their drawings. Or if you’re lucky enough to have access to any of your own childhood drawings, even better. And if you have no access to any children’s artworks, then hit the Internet and image-search for some that you like and can download, print, and add to your collection.

3) Start a stick figure journal.
Yes, stick figures. Get your own small notebook, nothing fancy, and just start doodling stick figures. You’re not out to impress anyone so ugly or incomplete stick figures are more than welcome. Get loose with this and use any stick figure drawing activity to awaken your hand-to-mind connection in the process.

What better way to invoke your own, innate stores of language creativity than to reconnect with the “drawing pictures” side of your childhood; from whence you originated your entire creative journey?

I hope you’ll try at least one of these tips to help you “circle back,” re-awaken, and stay inspired!



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