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I had never really considered where and how my punishing ideas about my own creativity—about myself—had formed. But as I spoke to scientists and researchers, I started to feel surprisingly liberated. Still, I couldn't shake the question: Supposing I, like everyone, was creative—exactly how creative was I?

I convinced Kaufman to give me a series of tests to find out. He started with some classic Torrance-style questions ("In three minutes, how many uses for an egg carton can you think of?"). I also took a personality inventory to gauge, among other things, my openness to new experiences (creative people score high). I completed the Remote Associates Test, in which you come up with the one word that links three others (eagle was the answer for bald screech emblem). In three minutes, I wrote a haiku with a science fiction theme. And though it made me sweat, I even agreed to draw a picture.

When Kaufman looked at my drawing, he said, "Well, I don't mean to be rude...." But instead of hearing those words and deciding that I was a failure, I did something far more creative: I shrugged. So I had a block when it came to drawing—so what? The test had confirmed that I was creative in other ways: as a writer and a thinker. I was clever, curious, and, yes, open to new experiences.

I wondered whether, now that I had a more realistic sense of my strengths and weaknesses, I could wear them both a little more lightly—and worry less about my daughter's as well. Maybe I could even treat creativity the way I do...bowling. Bowling, after all, is one of the rare things in life it's okay to be spectacularly lousy at—which gives you the freedom simply to play. You cheer the strikes, you laugh at the gutter balls. Sure, you could ask yourself, "Am I good?" or "Do I suck?" Or you could just give it a roll and see what happens.

Express Yourself!

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