The Definitive Guide to What Creativity Is and How to Tell If You Have Any

This morning, as part of my long-running day job writing marketing copy, I was asked to churn out a blog post on “Why Managers Need Creativity.”  This, of course, required me to blather for a few sentences on what exactly creativity is, before discussing why your average manager might need some.

I’m currently working on my second novel.  My Patreon is full of short fiction of various genres.  In my free time, I design for colorguard and winterguard, and I choreograph figure skating routines.

And I have no bloody idea what creativity is.

Sorry, kids. Here comes the curmudgeonly rant.

I really don’t.

I know what I do that results in things people call “creative,” or what you might call my personal “creative process.”  It involves drinking excessive quantities of tea, never changing out of my pajamas, and occasionally scratching my own ass.

And it involves work – the sort of deep concentration most people try to avoid making a part of their lives, well, ever.  Writing a novel and choreographing for either guard or figure skaters each follow their own specific set of rules.  Some of those rules can be broken; others cannot (figure skating is especially physics-sensitive).  If you break them, you had better make it damn clear to the audience how and why you broke them.  Breaking them had better be a shared in-joke with the audience.  Otherwise you just look like you don’t know what you’re doing.

Following the rules is easy.  Breaking them is hard.  I’m still waiting on audiences to tell me whether I pulled it off i the first novel.

Is this “creative”? Honestly, I have no idea.  I don’t know what creativity is.  I have no idea when I’m being/doing it.  Treating “creativity” as a personal attribute I, personally, possess just baffles me.

If I had to define “creativity,” I’d do it like this:

Creativity is what happens when something I’ve created crosses someone else’s expectations in a way that serves to impress and delight them, rather than unnerve or frustrate them.

Of course, this implies that I’m not the “creative” one at all – that “creativity” lies with the expectations of the viewer, not the skill of the creator.  Which, frankly, makes sense, if you consider that all art is just shouting (or occasionally pissing) into the Void unless it’s experienced by an audience.

So, to answer your question:

What Creativity Is: Hell if I know.

How to Know If You Have Any: You can’t.  Someone else might, though.  Ask them.

Meanwhile?  I just write what my brain tells me to so it will shut up long enough for us to get some sleep.

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