Are you creative or not?

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Asking someone if they are creative is the wrong question to ask.

It may be better to instead look at what is meant by “creative” and what it means to ask someone if they are that thing. But creativity is a very complex something to describe. Is it a process? A function? A spiritual gift bestowed on us when we need it most?

Is it fair to even ask “what is creativity” when the answers may be just as complex? I don’t think so. In-fact, I think we’ve been thinking about what it means to be creative in a round-about way.

In his 2012 book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, Jonah Lehrer writes that creativity is the equivalent to thinking with various processes in the brain: “[T]he standard definition of creativity is completely wrong. Ever since the ancient Greeks, people have assumed that the imagination is separate from other kinds of cognition. But the latest science suggests that this assumption is false. Instead, creativity is a catchall term for a variety of distinct thought processes. (The brain is the ultimate category buster.)”

Aha! Creativity, we can now assume, is not any singular thing; an elicit action or function within the brain or spirit. Creativity isn’t necessarily thinking by itself either, though thinking is a very big aspect of creativity.

No, creativity is how we think.

I’ve tried to express this with words for nearly six years, but it’s been difficult to find the right explanation. Creativity seems so mystical, so misunderstood and falsely preached about. The reason it is so difficult to describe is because we associate it with thinking, with the understanding that thinking itself is a process of creativity.

This fact alone makes creativity itself seem much bigger than simply what we think, which – in turn – makes it seem like such a vastly complex thing to describe. Because thinking is a part of what we title “creativity” it seems like something that is beyond thinking, something we can’t express accurately (it goes beyond anything we can understand, since it is outside of our thinking scope).

But creativity is not as overly complex to discuss when we understand that it is simply around the notion of how one thinks. We place complexities onto it by how we talk about it, that’s all.

Of course you’re creative, if you think. When we talk about creativity we’re not asking whether or not you think however, what we’re really trying to understand is how you think and how much of what you think entails imagination, previous experience, curiosity, etc.

Someone who generates a lot of ideas is viewed as creative not because they have the capability of coming up with a lot of ideas (anyone can do that), it’s the fact that they have gone and done it.

To ask: “Are you creative?” is to ask: “How do you think?”

For further reading on semantic interpretation, see If a tree falls in an empty forest, does it make a sound?