While doing my daily (okay, bi-daily) Twitter trawl, I spotted a link to a BuzzFeed article entitled “14 signs you were born an artist”, which – in its classic listicle format – enumerated the 14 qualities that supposedly make a person destined for artistic greatness. As someone who’s recently been questioning what it actually means to be creative, I expected the points in the article to confirm my dawning suspicion that I am not in fact a very creative person.
Though surprisingly while I was reading through the list, I was intrigued to learn that I possess several of the qualities listed, including the ability to ‘see things differently’ and the habit of questioning authority. The article also mentions that creative people are often told they’re “a bit weird”, something with which I can identify.
After a lot of thinking I have reached the conclusion that I am in fact a conceptually creative person. I day-dream a lot, which often makes me appear absent-minded, and out of touch with the present moment; but this means I often reflect on times past, present and hypothetical, which in turn I feel makes me conceptually creative. You only have to play a game of ‘Would you rather’ with me to discover this.
Now, I’m acutely aware that theories expounded by Buzzfeed – or any publication, for that matter – shouldn’t automatically be taken as absolute gospel. Having said that, all the characteristics listed seemed to ring true somehow.
So, what is creativity? A quick look at our trusty Oxford dictionary tells me that creativity is:
The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.
When you hear the word ‘creative’ or ‘artist’, you often associate this (or maybe it’s just me) with someone who is good at drawing or skilled with a paintbrush, or someone with a good eye for design – these people are the visually creative, able to capture the essence of something in their own unique way. But the term creativeness isn’t limited to the visual – it’s everything. To be creative simply means to be able to create things, whether these things are drawings, paintings, concepts, stories, jokes, musical compositions, meals, buildings; you name it – if you can create it in your own way, the act is creative.
For instance, if someone were to ask me to draw a picture of a person, I’d probably draw you my best stick man. Ask me to create a story or a concept and I think I’d do a lot better. The man with the paintbrush mightn’t be good with words, just as the wordsmith might not be good with the paintbrush. One person’s stupidity is another person’s creativity, and vice versa.
So next time you dismiss yourself as being uncreative, have a think about what you’re good at. If you’re not creative in the ‘typical’ sense of the word, it might be that you’re good at creating solutions to complicated problems; or it may be that you’re simply a good conversationalist; or good at creating interesting juxtapositions, in say…flower arranging.
Creativity is not clear-cut; it has no boundaries, and telling yourself that you aren’t creative is the most uncreative thing you can do.