What is creativity and 47 reasons why you ain’t a creative

Right off the bat, I’m gonna level with you and say that I don’t have forty-seven reasons why you are not creative. I don’t even have one. I just needed a funky title that the Google machinery would pick up on. Citing a list of stuff and using “creativity” in the title was a cool way of tricking that uncreative algorithm into thinking there might be something valuable (creative?) in here. There might be. I dunno.

I don’t even know you, so why do you care what I think about you? You might be creative; you may not be. All I can do is give you my narrowly-defined definition of creativity and watch you squeeze through the hole, proving you are.

Everyone wants to be a creative these days. Seth Godin says this is the Age of the Creative. The rest of us are “lizard brains.” Nobody wants to be a lizard brain. That sounds dull, slow, and backwards. Daniel Pink says that anyone who is not creative will not be able to thrive in the new world of employment. Teachers everywhere are encouraging little Johnny to explore his world around him, to be creative; right before she sends him off to detention for talking out of turn using creative language.

I promised you a very narrow definition of creativity. Here it is:

Creativity is creating something original and appropriate within the confines of your craft.

That’s pretty much it. You can’t do what someone has already done — like using all lowercase in an essay — and call it creative. E.E. Cummings already did that. You must make something out of nothing that was not there before. It must be appropriate, i.e., elephant poo on a painting is not creative. Really, it’s just kitsch. And you must be aware of and adept at applying the rules of your craft. Then bend or push the rules with purpose.

Most of what we call “creative” these days tends to be sloth and impatience; folks who are too lazy or in too much of a hurry to hone their craft. Instead, they color sloppily outside the lines and call it creative. Real creativity takes years of hard work and dull practice before it ever sees the light of day.

Have I poked at you hard enough? Do you find yourself disagreeing with me? Are you angry enough at me for not including you in the creative club? I sure hope so! Add your creative comments below. I dare you. Just be original, appropriate and stretch language to express yourself.

Proper grammar is required.

This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about “answering the big question, “What is creativity?”” To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.

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