What is being creative mean to you?
If you think a creative is someone who creates something unique out of the blue then you are as wrong as I was when I didn’t understand creativity.
Creativity is nothing more but a process. A process of creating something. From imagination to reality. From an idea to a tangible thing. We all create something all the time. That should be enough to make us all creatives.
But we don’t feel creative because we don’t think we are creating something ‘original.’ Because the literary definition of creativity is “use of imagination or original ideas to create something new.”
Most of us get fixed on the idea of being original.
How to be original when everything has been done before. All story plots have been used endlessly, every emotion has been exploited, songs repeat themselves and there is no new way to paint the sky.
We get so obsessed with being original that we stop creating. We get frustrated because we can’t find a new way. All the time we are looking for a completely original way to do things.
This is where we are mistaken.
When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.
Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.
In a beautiful article for The Atlantic, Nancy Andreasen, a neuroscientist who has spent decades studying creativity, writes:
[C]reative people are better at recognizing relationships, making associations and connections, and seeing things in an original way—seeing things that others cannot see. … Having too many ideas can be dangerous. Part of what comes with seeing connections no one else sees is that not all of these connections actually exist.
The same point of view is offered by James Webb Young, who many years earlier, wrote:
An idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements [and] the capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships.
Creativity belongs to the artist in each of us. To create means to relate. The root meaning of the word art is to ‘fit together’ and we all do this every day. Not all of us are painters but we are all artists.
Each time we fit things together we are creating – whether it is to make a loaf of bread, a child, a day.
This energy which we call “making” is the relating of parts to make a new whole. The result might be a painting, a symphony, a building. If the job is done well, the work of art give us an experience of wholeness called ecstasy – a moment of rising above our feelings of separateness, competition, divisiveness “to a state of exalted delight in which normal understanding is felt to be surpassed.”
In this video, How to be Creative, a web series exploring art, internet culture, and people creating it, filmmaker Kirby Ferguson urges people to let go of this romanticized idea of “originality.”
He agrees that ideas don’t actually come out of thin air; in your subconscious, you were still processing all these influences from memories, education, experiences, etc.
He also mentions that humans create new ideas by copying, transforming, and combining other ideas.
Artists take existing ideas that nobody would have thought of combining, and connect them; make them work.
So, in nutshell, creativity is nothing more than connecting pre-existing ideas into new ideas.
We all are capable of doing it.
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