Looking at Creativity the Write Way

I recently had a conversation with a friend who was upset by the snobbery she read about between creatives, specifically literary writers versus romance writers. (If it comes to fisticuffs, I’ll put my money on romance writers any day.) Setting aside personal preference regarding reading or writing a certain genre, this kind of comparison seems as rational as making fun of someone who prefers polo shirts over t-shirts or the color red over blue. I’m still trying to understand where this kind of thinking comes from.

Creativity vs. Creative Expression
Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition, 2001) defines “creative” as: (#2) having or showing imagination and artistic or intellectual inventiveness [creative writing]; and (#3) stimulating the imagination and inventive powers [creative toys]. In other words, creativity demonstrates imagination and inventiveness and stimulates the same.

Is what we think of creativity actually the expression of creativity? When we say someone is creative, does that come from our perception of what that person has expressed through music, words, or another medium?

Expression of Creativity, a function of time and testing
To get good at anything we need to spend time doing that thing. Musicians study and practice for hours and years. Artists who draw or paint don’t pick up a pencil or a brush and create a masterpiece the first time they try (and maybe not for decades). Dancers must stay in shape, continue to practice their steps, and learn new ways to move.

Regarding actors, it seems the ones whose expression of creativity is better than others are those who have spent time learning their craft, maybe digging deeper into their emotions than others are willing to do. The same is true for writers. None of us enjoys reliving old wounds any more than gnawing on bitter bones, but doing so can translate into more fully formed characters and a story that resonates.

Writers can’t stop learning, practicing, drawing with our words, strengthening our creative muscles. We start out barely able to construct a sentence with clarity (that is, if we can get the creative bits out of our brains to begin with). The best expression of our creativity happens after we put the time in.

Does it take a writer longer to be good at their craft than a musician or a painter? Does what we put in equal what we get out?

Creatives vs. “Ordinaries”
Does that mean people who aren’t usually considered artistic also aren’t creative? What about cooks, engineers, entrepreneurs? Should we judge creativity on a scale? Artists get the high score and lowly inventors a mid-mark. While we’re at it, let’s compare and judge artists against each other. Even better, let’s start by judging preschoolers’ finger paintings. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Stepping away from sarcasm, are fiction writers more creative than nonfiction writers? I think not. So this is where I suggest we look at the expression of creativity in a different way.

The Write Way to Look at Creativity
Let’s put who we think of as artists (writers, musicians, sculptors, etc.) in one group and call them fiction-type-creatives. Put other more academic types (architects, programmers, doctors, etc.) and “ordinary” folk, such as cooks and landscapers, in a nonfiction-type-creatives group. If we did this, would we think more kindly, be more accepting, of all people and their expressions of creativity?

Really, I’m in awe of people who throw ingredients into a pot and pull out a magically-delicious-whatever. What about those who apply their technical knowledge and years of experience to real-world problems to create something that changes lives, like a portable water purifying system? And consider mothers and teachers—I dare you to try keeping children occupied without applying some kind of creativity.

My Creativity Rant
So that is my little rant, and a long way of saying: I believe we’re all creative in some way, and the extent to which our expression of creativity affects others depends on how much time we put into learning and practicing a particular creative endeavor.

Polo vs. t-shirt. Oil painting vs. watercolor. Jazz vs. rock-n-roll.

I’m glad we’re not all one kind of reader or writer. Creative expression should be marked by individualism. Creativity grows thousands of branches from the same tree, each budding or blooming with kaleidoscopic flowers.

If we’re all creative in some way, doesn’t that give us common ground to interact on?

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Speculative Fiction Writer

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Posted in Musings
14 comments on “Looking at Creativity the Write Way
  1. cagedunn says:

    Reblogged this on Cage Dunn: Writer, Author, Teller-of-tall-tales and commented:
    This is the best way to say it! Long live the cooks, the builders, the artists, the day-carers …

  2. MNL says:

    I think that kind of division says something about what a culture values. An oil painting is more “artistic/creative” than a weaving made into a dress or a scarf because the second one has practical use so can’t be as creative. One gets designated ART and the other is craft? A happy rom-com is unlikely to win an oscar but a movie around a depressed suicide has a much better chance so happy isn’t creative? Humor is really hard! (speaking as someone whose posts are rarely funny). It’s this weird division that happy or practical is not as creative as the nonpractical or depressed. It’s a cultural thing though. There are cultures where practical is seen as an art form so bowls and textiles are celebrated. I like what you wrote — I agree, creativity in all it’s form should be celebrated and should be encouraged.

    • KL Wagoner says:

      You make a good point that culture plays a part in what we value. Experiencing other cultures helps us to grow and look at our own little world in a different light. And I never thought of the practical (or the humorous) being snubbed. It makes me want to pay closer attention to the simple things around me. Thank you for stopping by!

  3. pvcann says:

    I’ve always thought it was based on power ideals and protecting unnamed insecurities, i.e. projecting a clever, classy, literary, successful image. It happens with movies too (or are they films, cinematography, etc.). My shelf is a real testimony to both sides, but I’ve been criticised for it, sad really, enjoyed the read.

  4. Absolutely brilliant rant! You shed light on a nasty, dark corner of the life in art. I appreciate your insight in this piece. Really well done…keep up the good work!

  5. I totally agree with you. We are born creative and just need to find out the most authentic way of voicing that creativity for ourselves. Thanks for sharing. I am a Creative Life Coach offering Life Coaching and Creative Project Coaching experiences and have a poetry blog here on WordPress in case you have time to look? Have also included the link to my coaching website in case you are interested in seeing this too and do feel free to share with others as many of my sessions are held online via Skype, Facetime or Zoom.

    Sunny greetings from Switzerland,
    Sam :)
    https://peacockpoetryblog.wordpress.com/
    http://www.samallencoachingcreatively.com

    • KL Wagoner says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Sam. You have two good-looking websites. I applaud you for posting your poetry almost everyday — I can’t imagine being so productive. I consider myself a creative person, but it takes time for me to feel my work is ready for consumption. Good luck with your coaching endeavors!

  6. A wonderful rant! I agree that there are as many different ways to be creative as there are people. :-) The need to rank is rather silly. Even if one of us is at the top of the game in one area, there will be a whole bunch of areas where we are ordinary or downright awful! :-)

    • KL Wagoner says:

      Yes, and we can appreciate each others strengths while working to improve our own game. Creatives should be the best encouragers because we know how hard it is to put our work (and ourselves) out there. Thanks for sharing, Diana!

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