I have been thinking about creativity lately. Mostly because a number of people have told me they are not creative. One way to wind me up it to tell me you are not creative. It brings out the snarly encourager in me. I will fuss at you and if I know you well enough we will figure out what you create. It may be chaos but by golly you created it! In the first chapter of Genesis we are told we were created in the image of God. Think about that we reflect God in our makeup, in our being. We can't help but create. Why do you think so many people long to create something? In thinking about writing this blog post three points emerged over time. One, society has so classified what is and is not creative that we no longer understand or appreciate creativity. Two, creativity is like a muscle and three, creativity is work.
There is a lot of creative thought in things we use every day. I mean think about it. Someone had the idea for a spoon and made the first one. Back then it was new and exciting; people thought, “Wow! That guy is so creative! How smart/weird is that?” Today it is just something in a drawer. The point is creative thinkers are problem solvers. We tend to think of activities like dance, drawing, painting, singing, playing an instrument and so on as creative. We ignore or downplay amazing feats of creative thought and application. I am writing this with a computer program. When I was a kid someone said to themselves, “How can I make a bunch of ones and zeros translate into letters on a computer?” Then they turned that creative thought into reality. Then (Thank God!) someone else invented spell check and grammar check so people like me could write cohesive sentences. We tend to discount linear thinkers and yet they conceive most of the truly helpful things in the world. Most of the concepts begin with the questions like what if I or what would happen if? Then comes a lot math and science from that medicines, medical devices, computer programs, and more and more are invented. You cannot hang them on wall but they are no less creative than a painting.
Back when I had to put all my stuff in storage I put my creative life on hold. I stopped reading about jewelry making. I stopped imagining projects. I shut it all away in the back of my mind for later. One day I needed to solve a problem and I could not imagine a solution. I realized my imagination had atrophied from lack of use. The creative mind like so much about us needs to be used or we lose it. We need to be exposed to new ideas and new things to keep our imagination sparking. We need to other creative thinkers in our lives to keep us asking, “How can I apply or misapply that?” People don’t create in a vacuum. Something or someone inspires us to make or to do. Even the most internal artist needs an audience for his work.
Which leads to the third point, creativity is work or maybe it is learning. (Maybe it’s both) The majority of people don’t just start drawing or painting on their own; they learn from another person, a book, or a video. For most of us in the beginning learning means copying someone else’s method or technique. Once we have learned the basics we find our own style or voice. Finally we begin to make our own projects. Then there is the nitty-gritty of getting it done. Dancers don’t just show up and dance, someone choreographs the moves. There is a lot of practice until it is right. Costumes and a venue are chosen. Finally the performance takes place. The process of learning doesn’t stop each project is a learning experience. We learn new techniques. We learn to see mistakes as possibilities and not disasters. We learn what works and what doesn’t. We ask ourselves what would happen if I did that….