Creativity: A Definition
According to Wikipedia, CREATIVITY is the phenomenon where something new and somehow valuable is formed.
I love this definition because it is so far from what I consider to be the definition of creativity.
One of the things I love doing is gathering items of glass, clear and colored,
and putting several pieces together into statues.
The concept is not new, but no one has used the specific pieces of glass that I used and incorporated other little different embellishments that I did. To me it is not new. I’m pretty sure it is not that valuable; however, I have sold a couple of my “constructions” and given a few of them away.
Since it is not new and it is not valuable, does that eliminate it from being creative? NOPE! No way – no how. I am being creative.
To me, the definition of creativity should include that the creator sees something in a way no one else has. I could put the same pieces of glass in front of several different people and have them sit with their backs to the center of a circle (or go somewhere out of sight of the others) and when they were finished putting a “construction” together, each would have created something similar, yet different.
As a child, I created what I couldn’t have: You see, money was tight and frivolous items were not to be asked for. That didn’t mean that I couldn’t take boxes, wrapping paper, tape, glue, scissors, and other odds and ends and create what I couldn’t have. I created a multiple compartment purse and a little dresser vanity. The items I created weren’t new and definitely not valuable to anyone other than me, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t creative.
I drew pictures and made the greeting cards I gave to my parents for holidays and birthdays.
I created stories.
I WAS CREATIVE. I HAD CREATIVITY.
I STILL CONSIDER MYSELF CREATIVE. THAT I LEAD A CREATIVE LIFE. THAT I POSSESS CREATIVITY.
My creativity challenged my teachers as far back as kindergarten.
At the semester parent/teacher conferences, Mrs. Highland, my kindergarten teacher, challenged my mother to look at the tempra paint snowman pictures hanging on the wall. She asked my mother to pick out the one I had painted. It wasn’t a hard task for my mother. It was the one that looked different from all the rest.
When Mom got home, I was confronted. “Why hadn’t I followed the directions Mrs. Highland had given?”
Of course, my response was not necessarily expected. “But my snowmen never have three parts. I can’t lift a third one that high.” Logic trumped directions.
It didn’t stop there.
In first grade, I colored the grass and sky incorrectly. “The sky,” Mrs. Wish directed, “should be colored side to side (I always guessed it was because the wind blew and the clouds moved in that direction.) and the grass should be colored up and down.” (As Mrs. Wish said, “because the grass grows up from the ground.”) I colored them the opposite way.
Some might say I was rebellious, but I think I was creative.
I continued along my creative path, but I started to learn that my creativity wasn’t necessarily appreciated. Especially if I went against the grain of those who made the rules.
In seventh grade, I worked my whole Christmas break to try to construct “traditional” poetry without success. I had numerous attempts, numerous good lines and moments, but no good single poem. So, I handed in all my attempts and received a “C”.
A vast number of definitions for the word “creativity” exist. What is more important is what the word means to you?
To me, there are four aspects to being creative.
#1 Allow Yourself to Have an Open Mind.
An open mind can be scary. It opens the doors to “What if’s?” It opens the doors to seeing what others might not see. It opens the doors to questioning other people’s opinions.
When I was a kid, our kitchen table had a Formica top that had all sorts of smoky swirls in it. My father would sit with a pencil and outline the array of things he saw in the table: people, animals, things in nature.
#2 Allow Yourself to Break with Routine and the Expected and Do Something Differently.
I love giving Christmas gifts. A number of times, when I have something small or something that would be a dead give-away because of how it might be wrapped, I have wrapped the basic present and then put it in a larger box and wrapped it again. And sometimes three, four, or five times. Surprise! Just what you always wanted, another wrapped box.
Tired of driving the same way to the same destination every day (like to or from work), I would turn a different direction or take a detour through one of the forest preserves.
#3 Allow Yourself to Think “Outside the Box.”
I find many people are only partially creative because they allow the dictates of society, religion, and people they know stop their mind from pondering the options and choosing the best option.
I found this too much when I was teaching. Too many of my students wanted to be told exactly how to do something, instead of exploring the options; or I had students who, when faced with a creative assignment like create a myth about how the world was created, would tell me that “God created the world.” and there was no other explanation.
#4 Allow Yourself to be Passionate About What You Do.
To me, passion when I am creating finds me loosing track of time. If I go out to the shop to repurpose a cigar box or violin, make old silverware into jewelry, or construct a statue from glass, I can find that five or six hours have passed while I have been immersed in what I was doing.
Take time to embrace your creativity in the kitchen, in decorating your home, in music, in writing, in crafts by thinking outside the box.
What’s your definition of creativity? Why do you believe you are creative even if others don’t? Take a moment to share your definition in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading.