The definition of creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something.
The funny thing I’ve found about being creative is that, at its purest form, I don’t have to worry about what other people think. When I create simply as a means of expression, it is an intimate conversation with myself. I think that few people are fortunate to experience this as a way of making a living, such as fine artists.
Back in my psych undergrad, in my final year I took a fringe elective module, and it was called something like ‘Imagination in Science and the Mind’. Looking back, it was all about creativity, and psychologists pursuit in understanding the mental processes involved with creativity within the scientific field.
In attempting to understand how creative processes differ, psychologists classify creativity as p-creativity and h-creativity. Arguing that it is of more fundamental importance, P-creativity is with respect of the mind of the person concerned, even though others have come up with the idea before. H-creativity adds that no other person has had this idea before. I think, we have a tendency to inhibit creative mental processes by getting hung up on wanting to be original.
A psychologists definition of creativity further asserts that creativity is adaptive. Not only is the idea new, it must be workable and functional. They argue that creativity enables a person to adjust to novel circumstances so as to solve problems that unexpectedly arise. In thinking about whether this applies to fine artists, my mind casts to the large collection of dreamy works by historical painter William Turner. He is known for his powerful illustrations of the effects of the first industrial revolution on our landscape. To remain relevant, he adapted his paintings, depicting society itself adpating to huge technological changes.
There is a huge body of research on the subject of creativity, one only needs to glance at the length of its Wikipedia page. Here I draw on my thoughts based on my past learnings, which presents an incomplete view of the subject area.
Creativity engages in a thought process known as divergent thinking, the individual generates ideas and explores many possible solutions. It is described as spontaneous, free-flowing, and non-linear. Reference is made to the short time frame within which this should occur, in order for unexpected connections to be drawn. Following this, divergent thinking may be employed, to organise these ideas for the purpose of arriving at a single solution to be actioned.
I think it is necessary to have a balance of convergent and divergent thinking, in order to succeed in life. However, I am self-aware enough to realise that the balance is skewed towards divergent thinking for me. What this simply means is that it takes more mental effort for me to engage in the process of convergent thinking, whereas divergent thoughts come naturally to me.
Anyways, those are my thoughts on creativity this week, and I hope you learnt a thing or two as well.