What is creativity?

The word ‘creativity’ is overused and under defined.

Ask a room of ten people “what is creativity?” you’ll get ten different answers. This is a problem because if we all have a different understanding then it’s harder to collectively utilise the massive power of creativity, after all, every aspect of human civilisation has been built by it.

One of my favourite words is ‘waldeinsamkeit’, it’s German and refers to the feeling of being alone in the woods. I love words that can break down a larger concept like that. This word doesn’t just mean solitude; it is specific and relates to closeness with nature.

We need some new words to break down creativity in a similar way. We use the word to cover a massive breadth of possible applications. It’s difficult to distil such a huge subject into a single blog post, maybe one day I’ll write a book, but for now; here are what I feel to be the three most important aspects of creativity;

 

It’s problem-solving

Humans are problem-solving machines. Fire, the wheel, the internet. Every luxury that makes your life a little bit better exists because a creative person solved a problem. It always blows my mind that suitcase wheels weren’t invented until the 1970s. Up until this point, only wealthy people could afford to go on holiday, wealthy people that had others to carry their bags. In the seventies, travel became achievable for everyone and all of a sudden we were all lugging our own cases through airports. That’s when we realised that there had to be an easier way and the wheely suitcase was born. Wherever there is a problem, there lies a potential opportunity for a creative.

 

It’s how we make change

Creativity doesn’t occur in a vacuum, everything is built from something else. Our ideas are only possible because of everything that has gone before; as Joe Rogan says; “If we were dumped on a desert island, how long before you send me an email?” Creativity takes what has been done before and mixes it with something it’s never been mixed with before. Jungle music producers took dub, reggae and breakbeat and created something new, this evolved into drum and bass, without that there would be no dubstep or grime and on and on we go. There’s a set way that things are done, creativity allows us to look at the standard and flip it on its head.

 

It’s a habit

Creativity is a habit, not a personality trait or a ‘gift’ we’re born with. The more you put your ideas into action, the more ideas will come. Set aside time each day to practice being creative and remember; an amateur creates when they feel like it, a professional creates to a schedule. Your life is made of your habits, ditch Netflix or Xbox and start doing something else. It’s hard in the beginning but as you develop a habit in six months, a year, five years; your life will transform. Lots of guests on the podcast have spoken about how restricting options can improve creativity. If you sit down with a blank sheet of paper the possibilities are endless and it can become overwhelming. If you give yourself a theme or parameters you will find ideas flow much easier. The more they flow, the more you’ll discover.

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