Thursday, June 16, 2016

What is Creativity?

What is creativity? The internet says, "the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.  synonyms include inventiveness, imagination, innovation, originality, individuality."

But I don't always agree with the internet.

What is creativity? There is no doubt that creating something original, something innovative requires creativity,  but I don't think these alone define it.  

In a comment a couple of days ago, Birdwatcher (great to see you at Conference!) said, "I struggle with the label "creative" - when I take a pattern for the leg of a sock, and move it around (make it twice, or put one design on the top of the foot) I don't think of it as creating - more like adapting someone else's creation for the individual who will receive the sock. Maybe in Creation, God took a basic pattern and adapted it to different needs/locations?"

I think this is a common thought - many of us feel this way. I knit and make cards, and I struggle with the idea that if I follow a pattern or am heavily inspired by the work of someone else, I'm not really being creative. When I knit a sock, I am not (ever) making something that someone has not made before, and has not written out instructions for me to follow, so that I can make a sock just like the one that was made previously. BUT, I am taking lightweight yarn and five double-ended sticks, and when I am finished, there is a sock. It is something that didn't exist before. When I'm creating it, I have the reassurance that someone has done the engineering for me, but still, when I'm finished, I have a sock that I created. It didn't exist before, and now it does. (And it sits there, impatiently waiting for me to knit a mate).

It takes creativity to believe that tiny yarn and sharp sticks can become something else.

Unlike a sock, I can design a card from scratch. I can create in my imagination the image of a card that I've never seen anywhere else before. And I can create it from my imagination. I can also look at a card that someone else has created, and use my imagination to recreate it, using the tools I have and the inspiration from someone else's work. In the end, paper and ink has become something that didn't exist before on my desk - a card to send to brighten someone's day. 

It takes creativity to believe that I can turn ink and paper into a card, and it takes creativity to believe that my work in making the card, and sending it to someone else will brighten her day and provide him with encouragement.

I can see a need in my church for ministry with children, and I can research vacation Bible school programs, purchase one, recruit volunteers, and implement the program, exactly as it is written, and I am still being creative. It takes creativity to imagine that a need can be met. It takes creativity to adapt the program to our own particular setting (because, even though I said exactly as it is written - it's never that way). It takes creativity to imagine that we can change the lives of children through the work we do as a church. 

Birdwatcher is right - God took a basic pattern and adapted it to different needs and locations, and God is still doing that, every day. And no one would dare to say that God is not creative.



Blogger birdwatcher said...

;-) Fair enough!

10:25 PM  

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