It seems like everyone has their own definition of creativity. Let’s start with a definition from Dictionary.com as a baseline:
cre·a·tiv·i·ty [kree-ey-tiv-i-tee, kree-uh-] noun
1. the state or quality of being creative.
2. the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.
3. the process by which one utilizes creative ability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.
Out of these definitions, I like #2 best, but creativity is one of those squirmy translucent things that you have a hard time reaching out and just grabbing. Pinning it down is difficult and perhaps the best way to do this is to get a little help from others.
Over the next several days we will continue exploring the definition of creativity through the eyes of other creative people. Today we start with a few famous quotes about creativity that define what it IS:
- “Copying smarter.”– VP of strategy at Overit, Lisa Barone
- “The ability to connect the seemingly unconnected and meld existing knowledge into new insight about some element of how the world works. That’s practical creativity. Then there’s moral creativity: to apply that skill towards some kind of wisdom on how the world ought to work.”– Brain Pickings blogger Maria Popova
- “Creativity is the ability to see relationships where none exist.” – Thomas Disch
- “Creativity is one of the highest transmissions of love.” ― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem
- “Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.” ― Edward de Bono
- “Creativity is an act of defiance.” ― Twyla Tharp
- “Originality is the best form of rebellion.” ― Mike Sasso, Being Human: Everything you didn’t want to know about life.
- “The creative act is a letting down of the net of human imagination into the ocean of chaos on which we are suspended, and the attempt to bring out of it ideas. ― Terence McKenna
- “Creativity comes from looking for the unexpected and stepping outside your own experience.” ― Masaru Ibuka
- “Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.” ― Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
- “The road to creativity passes so close to the madhouse and often detours or ends there.” ― Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death
- “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” ― Joseph Chilton Pearce
- “Creativity is as important as literacy.” ― Ken Robinson
- “Creativity is fragile; if you don’t nurture it, it can die, leaving you recycling old ideas and pretending they’re fresh. It’s a sure road to mediocrity.” ― Lee Silber, Time Management for the Creative Person
- “You become more divine as you become more creative. All the religions of the world have said God is the creator. I don’t know whether he is the creator or not, but one thing I know: the more creative you become, the more godly you become. When your creativity comes to a climax, when your whole life becomes creative, you live in God. So, he must be the creator because people who have been creative have been closest to him. Love what you do. Be meditative while you are doing it – whatsoever it is” ― Osho
- “Despite a lack of natural ability, I did have the one element necessary to all early creativity: naïveté, that fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do.” ― Steve Martin, Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life
- “Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity.” ― T.S. Eliot
- “Reading, conversation, environment, culture, heroes, mentors, nature – all are lottery tickets for creativity. Scratch away at them and you’ll find out how big a prize you’ve won.” ― Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
- “But unless we are creators, we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint of clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career.” ― Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
- “Creative activity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.” ― Arthur Koestler, Drinkers of Infinity: Essays 1955-1967
- “One of the basics of a good system of innovation is diversity. In some ways, the stronger the culture (national, institutional, generational, or other), the less likely it is to harbor innovative thinking. Common and deep-seated beliefs, widespread norms, and behavior and performance standards are enemies of new ideas. Any society that prides itself on being harmonious and homogeneous is very unlikely to catalyze idiosyncratic thinking. Suppression of innovation need not be overt. It can be simply a matter of people’s walking around in tacit agreement and full comfort with the status quo.” – Nicholas Negroponte
- “Every act of creation is, first of all, an act of destruction.” – Pablo Picasso
- Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.” — Albert Szent Gyorgi.
- “Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.” ― Francis Bacon
- “To create, one must question everything.” – Eileen Grey
- “Art is the overflow of emotion into action.” ― Brian Raif
- “Innovation is fostered by information gathered from new connections; from insights gained by journeys into other disciplines or places; from active, collegial networks and fluid, open boundaries. Innovation arises from ongoing circles of exchange, where information is not just accumulated or stored, but created. Knowledge is generated anew from connections that weren’t there before.” – Margaret J. Wheatley
- “Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and, therefore, the foundation of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.” ― J.K. Rowling
- “I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.” ― Albert Einstein, On Cosmic Religion and Other Opinions and Aphorisms
- “Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.” ― George Lois
- “That’s creativity in a nutshell. A messy tug-of-war with imagination to erase that feeling that nothing really matters anyway.” ― Zoe Whittall, Holding Still for As Long as Possible
- “Creativity is the state of consciousness in which you enter into the treasury of your innermost being and bring the beauty into manifestation.” ― Torkom Saraydarian, The Solar Angel
- “Creativity is paradoxical. To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must-see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing as information incubates, must create many ideas yet most of them are useless, must look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different, must desire success but embrace failure, must be persistent but not stubborn, and must listen to experts but know how to disregard them.” [Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking (The Creativity Post, December 6, 2011)]” ― Michael Michalko
- “Creativity is the residue of time wasted.” ― Albert Einstein
- “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.” ― George Bernard Shaw
- “To me, all creativity is magic. Ideas start out in the empty void of your head – and they end up as a material thing, like a book you can hold in your hand. That is the magical process. It’s an alchemical thing. Yes, we do get the gold out of it but that’s not the most important thing. It’s the work itself.” ― Alan Moore
- “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” ― Scott Adams
- “An idea is salvation by imagination.” ― Frank Lloyd Wright
- “Just as energy is the basis of life itself, and ideas the source of innovation, so is innovation the vital spark of all human change, improvement and progress” – Theodore Levitt
- “To be creative is to look Madness in the eye and challenge it to a spitting contest.” ― River Fairchild
- “Creativity is the brain’s invisible muscle — that when used and exercised routinely — becomes better and stronger.” ― Ashley Ormon
Check out our other posts about discovering a creative thinking definition:
- “Anti” Creative Thinking Definitions–What Thinking Creatively is NOT
- The Deep Secret of Creativity
DO IT! – Creative Thinking Exercise
- What is your definition of creativity? Don’t think too hard about it. Set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and WRITE. Share your definition in the comments below.