Creativity as intelligence and day dreaming

Creative thinking is a very interesting thing to discuss with people. It’s a topic that means different things to different people.

Discussing the topic of creativity with an artist is very different than conversing about it with a writer. Try to talk about creativity with a finance manager and you’ll be considered crazy. Yet, for all of the various perspectives and misunderstandings or uncertainties around creativity, there is one straightforward truth about the subject that anyone discussing it should concern themselves with.

The truth is this: creativity is one part intelligence and one part fearless day dreaming. That’s it!

Intelligence, in this case, points not to an individual’s overarching IQ, but instead focuses on an intelligence of a particular subject or mentality. Someone who is considered an expert in any field (whether it’s painting or garbage collecting) can be considered as someone who meets the required level of intelligence for creative thinking about that topic.

However, even with a perfect knowledge of any specific topic, no new ideas or breakthrough thoughts can occur for an individual unless he or she participates in fearless day dreaming. Consider the artist who has slaved away at their practice for years. Unless they are open to day dreaming of risky and far-fetched ideas, they’ll never be a creative success. An artist who paints merely with watercolors is an artist nonetheless, but the artist which envisions a canvas made of gelatin with paint injected to create a 3D masterpiece is the creative artist.

It’s the same with any field or industry or subject. Intelligence (of that particular topic or, conversely, in a specific way of thinking) combined with fearless day dreaming (where the ideas that come to mind are welcomed no matter how far-fetched), can provide any job or project or problem with a creative outlet.

Today, look at your own life and work, ask if you need more intelligence of that topic (or if you, perhaps, need to change your way of thinking), or if you simply need to day dream more. When it comes to creative thinking, those two elements are the ideal place to start.

What happens after you’ve got those two aspects figured out is the next most important part of creativity: action. But that’s a topic for another day.

Original photo by Meg Wills.