For most people, creativity is when they see something pretty, exciting and/or complex. They relate creativity to anything they can’t have envisioned themselves.
Others see creativity as using old methods to create new things. And those products are awesome enough to be shared with the world—poems, food art, paintings, music, gymnastics and more.
Still, because the idea of creativity doesn’t have a rigid meaning, people ask: what is creativity?
What is Creativity, Really?
Social media has infiltrated our daily lives, and most likely, what you see now as creativity is the pretty and often viral craft that creators put out. In fact, when the creative part is non-existent, noting that 34,320 or a million people liked the content tends to make one try to derive creative meaning from it. Sometimes we find one, and sometimes we don’t; either way, our brain logs it in as something innovative. This is because, as humans, we like to be part of society. But that’s not creativity.
Creatives consistently use their imagination to create novel ways to do or produce something. Doing it once might make you creative, but it doesn’t make you a creative. Creatives look at something mundane and might make it even more mundane by finding a novel way to use the product or skill. They might take something mundane and make it exciting or vice versa. The thing is, creativity is not measured by what we see as pretty. As far as something different from normal is created, creativity has been used.
A popular game for boosting creativity is the paperclip exercise, where you find different uses for paperclips. The primary use is in its name, but you would need to find more! The farther it is from the original use, the better. The results might not be pretty, but they should be useful. And that’s the point of creativity.
The paints and swirls, the sensory stimulation, and other things we commonly associate with creativity are usually restricted to arts and music. And creativity is much more than that; people who are involved in arts and music may not even be creatives.
The mistake is the publicised Eureka! moment. The point where a brilliant idea springs up, and you scramble for notes to write it down before it flies as quickly as it came. But that’s only one part of the creative process, as psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi showed us. The creative process involves five stages: preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation, and elaboration. And insight is the third one. But before that, you need to prepare to be creative.
Creatives use their imagination to consistently produce ideas. So who are they? They are the chefs who continuously find ways to use the same ingredients in different delicacies. The fashion designers who sit day and night to conceptualise the theme they have. The mad scientists who have numerous failed innovations trying to get their technology or chemicals to work. The child that never makes his Lego bricks the exact same way as their peers. The writer who does ample research to weld a plot scene that syncs with their audience.
They have two things in common: work and consistency. In their field, they know the basics.
For most creatives, their work doesn’t see the limelight because it isn’t pretty enough or jarring enough to excite the masses. We relate creativity to dopamine triggers, and this isn’t a good qualifier of what creativity is.
Creativity is Unsexy
Creativity is work! “Just be creative. Be yourself” is not the perfect advice to boost creativity because it can’t work for everyone. That’s why there are processes to boost creativity, ways to ample, and myths to diminish to allow one fully see their potential. And it all takes work.
For creatives to be identified as such, their groundwork needs to be good. Then, with their basics intact, they add novel ideas that make their craft super.
As a chef, pouring 3 gallons of salt into a meal isn’t creative simply because it creates a new dish. Why? It has no base.
What creativity is, isn’t the viral content we see daily; it’s deeper than that. Yet, why do creatives consistently try to make us excited when we see their work?
People see the value of the craft themselves. Then they decide that it breaks from the normal cycle or has an engaging plot twist. Which means it has to grab attention. Due to the stimulation our society has, a lot of things grab our attention and keep it, but they are not necessarily creative. So creatives have to break our focus on those things to see their craft. And because their craft puts food on their table, they channel their creativity towards it and add something that engages their audience.
Everyone has some form of creativity, but growing it, takes time and work.What creativity is, is creating something new, and this touches innovation. Because, frankly, not all creativity is appreciated, and not all can be appreciated. We’re constantly evolving, and if it doesn’t support that movement, it will be left in the dregs.
Creativity In Business
“People want the booster shot for creativity. But creativity isn’t something that comes magically. It’s a skill, and as with any new skill, the more you practice, the better you get,” noted Anna Abraham, PhD, the E. Paul Torrance Professor and director of the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development at the University of Georgia.
Science has proved creativity is important in business too. In a study made in Orange County involving 74 employees who trained their creativity, researchers found that their rate of new idea generation increased by 55 per cent, which led to more than $600,000 in new revenue and savings of about $3.5 million through innovative cost reductions.
Still, there isn’t a perfect answer to “what is creativity”, but we can try.
There’s evidence that creativity uses both parts of the brain, and it’s suggested that that makes it a unique skill. Yet, as said, it’s a skill that needs to practice in order to do wonders with it.
As for what creativity is, you can take this home: creativity is the ability to use imagination to produce a novel idea and materialise it so people can use it.