What is creativity? It’s one of those deceptively simple questions.
One of the best ways to use Twitter is to ask questions. Keeping with the cocktail party analogy, which would you prefer… someone who wants to learn things about you, or someone who babbles on endlessly about themselves?
So, last week I asked people who follow me on Twitter a seemingly simple question: How do you define creativity? I picked out several of the responses and reprinted them below.
All italicized emphasis is mine.
Todd Mintz: Creativity is being able take a unique perception and develop it so others can understand.
Kristen Havens: Creativity = problem-solving with a unique point of view.
Lee Odden: To me, creativity is the ability to see and express unique perspectives
Rudy Amid: Creativity to me means getting the job done with minimal effort and the least amount of time.
Deb Ng: It’s a form of expression. For me it’s being able to use my words as a way to give others ideas and inspiration.
Gamermk: Creativity = the ability to create physical or intellectual property of value.
Anjali Ramachandran: Creativity is optimum unbiased solutions to complicated issues unleashed through any medium – digital, written, spoken.
Steve Woodruff: Creativity: Envisioning what isn’t, and figuring out how to bring it to pass.
Doug Hudiburg: For me, creativity is manifesting ideas into reality i.e. it’s more about execution that inspiration.
Create is a verb. Creative thinking without execution is not creativity. And in keeping with some of the comments above, I personally feel that true creativity results in something useful to others.
What do you think?
I plan to do more of this stuff in the future, so check me out on Twitter. Also, look for the kick-off of Roberta Rosenberg’s creative plan makeover series this week, only on Copyblogger.
About the Author: Brian Clark is the founding editor of Copyblogger, and co-founder of Teaching Sells.
Reader Comments (50)
Michael D says
Twitter has been great for putting posts like this together. It appears users reply faster than they do via email and you know the feedback will be short (less than 140 char) and sweet.
Mark - Creative Journey Cafe says
All of the above answers are terrific.
I might add, creativity is the ability to ask new specific questions that haven’t been asked before.
How can I improve this?
How can I solve this problem in a fun way?
Jay Francis Hunter says
Creativity is spilling the ketchup bottle and having the people at the table next to you help clean it up all while you slickly slid your business card in one of their pockets without noticing they’re doing the same thing to you. It must be Sunday as well…and if it’s raining, that helps.
It’s when you smile and the person next to you sees and smiles too.
My twitter: https://twitter.com/jfhscribbles
I guess it is more about something spectacular out of something that is of less significance.
Rob in Denver says
Doing old things in new ways. Or, sometimes, doing new things in old ways.
Creativity is letting my heart take control of me and not my brain.
Kalen Jordan says
Creativity is the ability to create. To create is to make something new. To think of something new, something unique, some different twist on something that has already been done.
Nice creative concept to elicit interactive responses for this Brian. Using Twitter to welcome thoughtful replies on a quality WebLog.
As Ken Robinson would say:
“Creativity is having an original thought which adds value” (paraphrased) .
Raja Sekharan says
Creativity is not knowing what is not possible.
Mark McGuinness says
Human beings tend to get stuck when they replace verbs with abstract nouns (‘creativity’, ‘motivation’, ‘depression’ etc).
If you label behaviours with a nebulous concept, it becomes harder to decide what to do next. But if you focus on the specific actions you’re taking (or not taking) you’ve got a better chance of finding a creative way forward.
Mahesh Subramanian says
Nice article and nice website.. Enjoyed reading articles on this site tremendously.. Will be visiting the site more often from now on..
Doug Hudiburg says
I like how this came together, great post and a great use of Twitter to pull in multiple perspectives. I think there is also a difference between artistic creativity and business creativity.
Great post. I remember having to write an essay about Idea and conception (two words inevitably involving creativity) for a class in university. Not a piece of cake.
@Mark – Creative Journey Cafe – I agree with you, but how about Creativity is more *answering* these questions, rather than asking them?
Mark Claudius Png says
Creativity is finding simple solutions for expression and application.
Joshua Goss says
What is creativity? Creativity is the ability to post without writing anything yourself. Creativity is taking the definition of efficiency (getting the job done with minimal effort and the least amount of time) and saying it is the definition of creativity.
John - eVentureBiz.com says
Brian, do you feel that true creativity can result in something useful to just you?
Also, it might be good to answer what creativity is not to help us answer what creativity is.
Oh man, it’s early – am I thinking too deep? 😉
Good post bro. Creativity is big with me.
Scaled all the way back to the most obvious, it’s creating something new.
As soon as I say that, I can think of all types of exceptions. But… most people do not create. They take what someone else has done and help finish it.
The creative are the ones who create — they start something worth finishing. I think most people fall in the category of finishers, and could benefit from having a creator in the group.
On the flipside, most creators could benefit by surrounding themselves with finishers.
I recently wrote a post on how self-starters shouldn’t think they have to finish the race alone.
WebSite Design Orange County says
Painting a four foot canvas completely black, labeling the title of the painting “Good vs. Evil”. No talent, no thought, no skill, yet some poser art snob will think its genius. That’s creativity!
Firstly, Creativity versus Creative Thinking – different but overlapping, at the same time.
* Creativity, in its extreme, is about creating something out of nothing, for no other purpose than to be creative – / – Creative thinking is about focusing on a problem and thinking about how to arrive at a solution where research and anlytical thinking may be important but are not enough *
– Most human activities involved in creativity fall somewhere between these two extremes.
A Renaissance artist, for example, might be largely creative (in his work) but must, to some degree, be creative-minded, in many cases, about reflecting some (political / social) message that his patron would expect in the painting, from one degree to another.
An advertising account planner, for example, might be largely creative-minded (in his / her) work. For example being creative-minded about how to go about doing research, and in particular, creative-minded in coming up with a ‘big idea’ (David Ogilvy) – marketing idea – that is, for an advertising campaign. And, yet, the account planner must have a spark of creativity about him / her in order to inspire the creatives (copywriter / art director) to come up with a great creative concept.
An advertising art director, for example, probably, falls somewhere (more on the creative side) in between being creative and creative-minded to one degree or another. The art director must be creative in coming up with a creative concept (with the copywriter) but at the same time must focus on his / her creative concept being relevant to the account planner’s creative brief.
There are lots of other jobs that fit somewhere along the line of being creative to being creative-minded. Going along the creative to creative-minded scale something like this (in general):
(CREATIVE) musician –> media designer –> inventor / product innovator / product innovator –> brand manager –> entrepreneur –> marketing manager –> company chairman / MD (CREATIVE-MINDED)
Something like this, perhaps (?!)
Sean D'Souza says
Creativity as most people see it, doesn’t exist. It’s a myth perpetuated by people who can’t explain what they do. The process of ‘creativity’ is simply high-speed structure.
This means that a person, any person, willing to learn a skill, can do so exceedingly well, given the right structure.
A lack of creativity comes from asking the wrong questions. I can teach anyone, and I mean anyone who’s interested, to draw cartoons for instance. Or write 30-second tv commercials, or write outstanding headlines, or whatever. But I have to ask the student the right question.
If I say: Can you draw cartoons?
The answer is no.
If I say: Can you draw circles, squares and triangles, then answer is always ‘YES’. That is the first step. Asking the right questions.
Then it comes down to breaking the components into easy-to-use structure. And when that structure is implemented repeatedly, and this could be as few as twenty or thirty times, the brain locks on to a system. And then it implements that system, because it has ease in implmenting that system.
When other systems are bolted onto that core system, the brain starts processing that one um…’talent’ and creates what is called high-speed processing. It becomes um, second nature. And the more you process, the faster you become. But the more levels you process (the layers of learning) the faster you become as well.
When you’re so fast that no one can figure out what you’re doing, you’re considered ‘creative.’
Ya, I really like Twitter as a medium for questions. I wish more people would ask them on there. That being said I don’t understand Twitter functionality that well, so I kinda thought that I was talking to a brick wall when I answered you lol
Anyway nice post. Cool to see the variety of answers.
Bill Hilton says
Creativity is what happens five minutes before the deadline.
John - eVentureBiz.com says
Bill Hilton says
Thank you very much – I’m here all week…
Great question! Creativity for me is putting two known thoughts or things together and making something new of it. And: there are creative thinkers who can’t realize their thoughts and there are creative makers who aren’t able to think creative. Both are important and have their significance. Lets give everybody esteem without judging!
The link above is just a single page project. I hope people find the creativity that is lying underneath. All functionalities of the website are made out of free internet services.
Creativity is the ability to create something of worth simply from what is within your grasp.
I really don´t know whether this is a definition of creativity, but I was quite impressed by the words of a late british graphic designer, Milner Gray (1899-1997). He said that there are six salient points in creating anything new. Those are easy to remember as 6 T´s of creativity. Gray also claimed one has to have at least three of these characteristics in order to be considered as “creative mind”. The six T´s are: Talent, Taste, Tecnics, Tact, Talk and Tenacity. I.e if you are talented person, it is not enough to be a man of good ideas, unless you aren´t able to speak those out (Talk). Or having an idea, but don´t have the skills to finalize that (Technics). One also has to be very tenacious and to have faith in own ideas, and so on..
Janelle v says
Creativity is the ability to think outside of the box and thus, produce something that no one else would have thought of. It’s the ability to be unique.
Oh by the way (I am the guy who wrote the long post above about creativity versus creative thinking) I worked as an advertising account planner (person behind ‘big idea’ – marketing idea). I have two blogs focused on creativity http://www.spotlightideas.co.uk (advertising / branding), and in particular, http://www.creativethinkjuice.blogspot.com (media / entrepreneurship, and creativity / creative thinking in general).
Maggie Chicoine says
Interesting! I was hoping that no-one would use the term, “thinking outside the box”. Wouldn’t you say that it’s one of the least creative phrases on the planet?
Has anyone come up with a creative replacement for da box?
Bill Hilton says
How about we pick off the low-hanging skies and engage in some blue-fruit thinking?
James Hipkin says
Creativity – I’m not sure what it is.
This post and associated comments are interesting but, for me, they miss the point. Creativity is something larger than can be defined in a single line. For me, creativity, is having a mind that is open, open to new ideas, new perspectives, other points of view. In essence a mind that is open to being creative.
I just read what I wrote and had a flashback to college in the 70’s. Oh well.
The Crazy Colombian says
I was surprised by Rudy’s suggestion that “creativity (…) means getting the job done with minimal effort and the least amount of time.”
I think he has confused productivity with creativity. On the other hand, leap changes in productivity are often achieved by creative means.
On a separate note, I agree with you that creativity requires an action – having a great idea that is not expressed is not a creative act.
Creativity is what often happens when you enter ‘The Intersection’ (read The Medici effect for an explanation – and thanks Brian Clark from Copyblogger for <a href=”https://copyblogger.com/three-free-resources/”pointing us” in the direction of this wonderful manuscript!).
To me, creativity is about turning limits into possibilities.
Iain Chalmers says
Interesting article here. I wrote a blog post recently talking not just about Creativity but the difference between it and innovation.
My take is:
Creativity = the pure generation of new ideas.
Innovation = the implementation of any idea.
See the article here – http://www.greenhatthinking.co.uk/
“Creativity cannot be defined”
I woke this morning with this definition for creativity…
… it’s something that makes a difference in every endeavor. Without it everything will be similar. Without creativity there will be no comparison, no competition, NO BIG DEAL about anything that is exist. It is the reason we see stunning things around us!
Stefan Wurz says
Creativity is what happens five minutes before the deadline.
Pubert Schmiddely says
Its like I’ve been thinking about it so much, but how do you put it inot words….the feelings? Some people don’t have maps.
online marketing blog says
for me it’s about creating something out of almost nothing and with your own hands.
erna nirmala says
well i think…..creativity is something that force us to interact with the world.creatvity is something that has not been there previously.
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