What is Creativity


I’ve been reading “Living with a Creative Mind” by Jeff and Julie Crabtree recently.

It’s one of the most encouraging books I’ve ever read as a creative person. I wanted to unpack some of the things I’ve been reading in the hopes that you will a) learn some awesome things that might help you as a creative this crazy world, and b) encourage you to buy the book yourself. It will flat out change your life. No bigs..

So let’s begin looking at what the book defines as Creativity.

“So – what is creativity? Is it a matter of genius? Is it magic, mystery or madness? Is it a gift or a curse? It is none of these. Rather, as Ken Robinson says, creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value.”

It’s a pretty broad, almost too easy an idea. But it communicates the something of the simple complication that is creativity. This statement comments that not every original idea is a creative one. For it to be creative it must have value.You can write a large, grand symphony, but if it is not validated as something that has value (by your peers, not just your mother) then this falls outside of the definition of creativity.

This is not to say that your art has to be validated by the “vox populi“. In fact art often has an element of reaction against the popular voice, or a reaction to what is commonly accepted as popular. But the chances are that if you are the only person who likes what you do, you may not be a genius at the forefront of culture….you may be crazy.

The other observation is that creativity is a process. It is not a purely mystical singular occurrence. The book proposes that this process can be broken down into 3 phases.

  • Perception – where something is seen, revealed, felt or recognised.
  • Discovery – where something is interpreted, known or found out.
  • Production – where something is made, performed or realised.

Read the book for more detail. But one of the really cool things I drew from this understanding of the creative process is that in the Discovery process, creative minds are wired differently from other people’s minds.

It’s incredibly releasing to know that I am wired differently. That people telling creatives to just be “normal” may not be the most helpful advice. And in the discovery phase what happens is the creatives have the ability to process a idea, thought or truth that may not fit within the prevalent world view, or culturally-held concept of normal. Basically, where other’s prefer not to challenge something that “just is”, creatives are wired to challenge the accepted and the norm. Because we have the ability to live with the tension of two seemingly opposite truths.

We challenge things, not because creatives always stir up trouble just be provocateurs. We stir things up simply because we are smarter than everyone else. (See what i did there?) Well…maybe more that we challenge things, because we are wired to perceive more views than just the strongest one. This…by the way is referring to strong creatives…everyone is creative. Just some are more deeply immersed and enriched by creativity.

We challenge things…and it’s okay to challenge things. We can’t be arrogant, in our heightened perceptive state, but understand that it’s okay. You are like that for a reason.

Enjoy…we’ll talk some more later.


Oh…just found this. It’s a video from one of the authors doing a better job at explaining this better than I ever could:

Inside the Book Living With A Creative Mind from Jeff Crabtree on Vimeo.



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