I didn’t initially know what to call this article, however, I did know that being a creative isn’t an option for me. I need to state I’m not talking about creating for work or a product, but just being creative for creativities sake. I believe that creating is part of who we are, we are a creative species. The thing is, we’ve got so caught up in product-driven creativity that something about the process has been lost. And, it’s such a shame.
So my creativity can be anything from journaling, creating a garden, coloring-in, making gifts for family members – anything that has ‘low-stakes’. I also undertake creativity that is ‘high-stakes’, for example my filmmaking work, writing and such, that needs to be at a certain standard, but I really do believe it’s the ‘low-stakes’ creativity that makes us who we are. Like meditation, being caught up in the joy of the process, playing the guitar, writing a poem, dancing around the house – whatever it is, it is taking time out to wrap ourselves in this amazing experience.
When we think of creativity, we think of Mozart, Picasso, Einstein—people with a seemingly fated convergence of talent and opportunity. It’s too narrow a set of references, because the truth is that all sorts of people, possessing various levels of intelligence and natural ability, are capable of engaging in fulfilling creative processes. Just because you’ll never be Brando or Balanchine doesn’t mean that you can’t harness your idea-generating powers and make your life your own masterpiece.
For me, creating not only gives me joy, but it makes my experience as human ‘lighter’. I mean, life can get difficult and creativity has always allowed me to deflect those difficulties, be present, work though issues in a productive way, and, it’s not like we need to show anyone. This ‘low-stakes’ creativity is just for us, alone.
When I’m stressed or feeling depressed I easily get caught up in negative thinking. Life can quickly become a serious struggle. However, if I allow myself to create something, maybe a drawing or I finish sewing that cushion cover, (which, by the way, is irrelevant to everyone else), it gives me a sense of achievement. Just enough sometimes to get through another day. I do realise it’s not easy carving out time for this type of creativity, I work full time and currently commute up to 3 hours a day, so my time is precious. However, I’ve learnt over time that creating is my necessity. It gives me time to just be… in the moment – a creative being.
Semir Zeki, a professor of Neurobiology at University College London, writes:
In humans, the brain is the most variable and fastest evolving organ. We cannot at present ascribe this variability to any well-defined structure or component in the brain. Rather, we infer it through the wide differences in, for example, intelligence, sensitivities, creative abilities, and skills.
His article is mainly discussing the ‘high arts’ or what I have stated as ‘high-stakes’, however his research discusses how beneficial viewing and listening to art can be, how the brain interprets variability. We often think our own preference for a certain piece of music or type of art is purely subjective, however, he asks us to re-think this, that we have a more collectively commonality to understanding art. His article highlights that our brain needs variability, that is we need change. And I’m suggesting that one way to do this is to create, solve problems, day-dream, or just visit an art gallery.
In saying all that, I also want to point out that creativity is not about being ‘artistic’, there are many types of creativity. I think the fields of Technology, Mathematics and Sciences are hugely creative. The mind is asked to solve problems, think in abstract ways to look at issues differently. This again, takes a healthy mind, one that can assess, move with change, and ultimately ‘create’.
In their article, “The Creativity Crisis”, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman state:
The accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful, and that’s what’s reflected in the tests. There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).
This article published in 2010 suggested that creative intelligence in American children was progressively going down based on research by professor E. Paul Torrance. There is no absolute reasoning for this, however there are suggestions pointing to children spending more time in front of screens and the education system in the States preferring “standardised curriculum, rote memorisation, and nationalised testing,” while other children globally are seeing a rise in creative intelligence, mainly to do with their school systems investing in creative thinking.
When you try to solve a problem, you begin by concentrating on obvious facts and familiar solutions, to see if the answer lies there. This is a mostly left-brain stage of attack. If the answer doesn’t come, the right and left hemispheres of the brain activate together. Neural networks on the right side scan remote memories that could be vaguely relevant. A wide range of distant information that is normally tuned out becomes available to the left hemisphere, which searches for unseen patterns, alternative meanings, and high-level abstractions.
Creating, being creative with your thinking, processing thoughts through variability doesn’t just happen. We need to foster our brain by thinking of it as a muscle that needs flexed and strengthened. I mean this is 2019, we need to think creatively, not only to enjoy our experience of life, but also to create sustainability into our own environments – which needs a lot of creative problem solving right now. But that is a whole other Blog Post…
What I wanted to do, in this post, is discuss, inspire or challenge us (myself included), into using creativity as a tool in our everyday lives. It is needed, it is a requirement, not something just for the ‘artistic group’ but for everyone. I know it’s not easy to make changes, step out of routines, start something new that someone else might think is not worthwhile. But just give it a go anyway – see what happens.
If you want to start this type of creativity make sure you keep the stakes-low. Introduce this time for yourself once or twice a week until you feel comfortable to start an everyday routine. There’s absolutely no rules – that’s the beauty of it – it’s just for you. Creating something no one else has to see, hear or experience. It’s just about the process – pure process. Not product or outcome driven. It doesn’t need to be about perfection or even about progressively getting better at something. Step outside your comfort zone, get creative and enjoy the experience.
Flora, C. “Everyday Creativity,” Psychology Today. Nov 1, 2009,
Zeki, Semir. “Artisitc Creativity and the Brain.” Science, vol. 293, no. 5527, 2001, p. 51. Gale Academic OneFile Select, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A76697748/EAIM?u=saeinstitute&sid=EAIM&xid=7d17837a. Accessed 11 Oct. 2019.
Bronson, Po. & Ashley Merryman. “Creativity Crisis” Newsweek, July 12, 2010, https://immagic.com/eLibrary/ARCHIVES/GENERAL/GENPRESS/N100710B.pdf