On Stories and Creativity

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I’ve known since a young age that I love stories. Stories connect with me. They move me to tears. They make me laugh. They change my perspective on life. They make me a better person. Stories are my thing. As a kid I remember roaming around our background telling stories to myself. I would tread lightly on the ground, avoiding the millions of yellow dandelions because, in my made up world, they were the most beautiful and rare flowers of them all. I could entertain myself for hours just by making up stories. Many school days may have been spent daydreaming as I stared out the window.

Stories are my thing.

But what I’ve learned as I’ve grown up is that precious creative side that comes up with stories can die. It does not die in an instant. It does not die overnight. For me it slowly died during my high school years. I carried the broken, fragmented pieces of my imagination with me into my first year of college, but somehow misplaced it between Investigations of Mathematics and Chemistry.

Now let me pause here and stress how important I believe education to be. It’s vital, especially in the world we live in today. I’m not knocking a good education, but there is a big difference between intellect and imagination.

What I’ve learned is that my actions reflect what I believe to be most important. In my busyness to be the best by getting the best grades and proving to myself that I could work hard, I lost my imagination. I lost my creative side. I recited to myself what was important: grades, grades, grades. This required studying, studying, studying. Without actually saying it, I had begun to tell myself that my creative side what not nearly as important as my intellectual side. It was not worth taking the time to sit and write or to get out and explore. What was important was grades.

Grades are important. I would not have received the scholarships I did if not for my grades.

Yet now I am studying professional writing, and I feel lost when I sit down to write a short story. The thing that used to come so easily and naturally is painful and arduous. It takes a lot to switch from intellectual mode to creative mode. But I am learning more and more that I desperately need to flip that switch. I need to take time to foster growth in the creative side of my brain.

This is what I have been learning this semester. It began on my trip to Turkey. As I walked on Biblical ruins, I was given the opportunity to fill in the gaps of many of the Bible stories I had read as a kid. On this trip I told stories. I wrote stories, and as I did I learned an important and obvious lesson. God made me a storyteller. He made me creative. He wired my brain to think in story.

In the midst of telling myself what was important, I also told myself what was unimportant, stupid, and a waste of time. Stories received the brunt of this assault. But I am slowly relearning the lessons that I never needed to learn as a child. God made me a storyteller. I connect with him most when I tap into my creative side. Reading my Bible and praying are great. But I never feel closer to him than when I am hearing someone’s story or writing a story.

And I’m learning that’s ok. Because God wired me like this.

King David wrote poetry and songs. I write stories.

And that’s good.

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