Same Creativity, Different Approach

Ask 10 people what creativity is, and you’ll get 10 different answers. That’s as it should be–individual approaches call for separate opinions.

“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people”
– Leo Burnett.  Burnett was a giant among advertising writers in the 1960s. His company was among the top 10 advertising agencies in the world. He was a word collector–he kept a folder of words, phrases and analogies in his lower left desk drawer. He used them to create iconic images such as the Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger, and the Marlboro Man.

* * *
“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club”
– Jack London, author of The Call of the Wild and White Fang.

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Charlie Mingus

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity”
– Charles Mingus, influential American jazz composer and double bassist. Composer of The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.

* * *

François-Marie Arouet, whose nom de plume was Voltaire. Image; Musee Carnavalet, Paris.

And just for frequent commentor Pete:
“Originality is nothing but judicious imitation”    – Voltaire

* * *
Feel free to add the definition of what creativity is for you.

Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who is writing a book on conversations with the inner critic.

Tomorrow: The new Featuring magazine is out, and I’m going to do a giveaway!

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14 thoughts on “Same Creativity, Different Approach

  1. I love the quote about going after inspiration with a club. So often as artists we feel that our art needs to be free and easy to accomplish if we are truly gifted. We forget that to make art, to create requires thought and work and inspiration but it doesn’t just happen. We have to mold our lives around what we do. We have to be so passionate about it that we look for it and fight for it daily. I think that’s why so many “artists” are misunderstood.

  2. I think creativity–or, more exactly, creation–is the closest any of us will ever come to knowing what it feels like to be God. I know we won’t have the level of intensity He felt when, for example, He created Adam and Eve, but when we have made something beautiful and we “see that it is good”, well, it’s the best feeling in the world. (Though I have to admit that holding the baby to whom you’ve just given birth feels much, MUCH better!)

  3. There’s creativity, and then there’s originality. They’re frequently conflated, but IMHO they’re not only not the same thing, they’re not even very closely related. But you’re right, there is very little agreement about creativity. To me it’s a content-free feel-good word and I try to use it as little as possible because anything so vague only rarely communicates clearly or usefully.

    Originality, now, there’s something fascinating. I think it’s harder to achieve when you focus on it, as in “I gotta make this xyz unlike any other xyz there’s ever been”. If you look “through” the xyz rather than directly at it, I think it’s more likely to be original, not to mention worthwhile. My goal in designing software and in writing instructional information is invisibility — whoever is using what I make will hopefully not really notice it’s there, because they’re thinking about what they want to do and learn, and nothing is getting in their way.

  4. I once had an argument with an accountant on whether or not there is creativity in accounting – and I don’t mean with the numbers. I said that there is creativity in the how an accountant goes about her job, in how she organises her routines and finds ways of working that are bet suited for her. She absolutely disagreed. There was nothing creative in her job.

    I think the fundamental reason for our disagreement was the difference in how we defined and thought about creativity. I personally define creativity rather openly: anytime a person (could be an animal too) does something that is not mechanical or automatic is creative. Me writing this comment is creativity as is hanging out laundry (it’s been proven, read Everyday Aesthetics by Yuriko Saito). Art is creative, BUT when I assemble 30 similar Christmas card birds from paper the assembling part is not creative though the designing of the card and the assembly system was. We are creative more often than we think but there are varying degrees or types of creativity. Skill also effects, IMHO, how we see creativity. A very skilled crafter doesn’t necessary see all her solutions as being creative because her skill produces them so effortlessly or unconsciously. You know the situation: ‘Wow, how did you come up with that?’ ‘What, well, you know, I just did it that way. Why, is there another way to do it?’ Creativity has much to do with problem solving but all problems are not that hard. Oftentimes they are just mundane decision.

    • This is an excellent thought on the variability of creativity. One reason I love it so much, is that it is exactly how I think of creativity–everyone is creative in their own way. And yes, the accountant is creative, even when she, herself, does not see it. Which is what makes that idea so interesting. And yes, we are creating routines in our lives, all the time, and they are creative, too.

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