What does creativity even mean? What does creativity mean for you personally and how can you invite it into your life? Is there a way to redefine what creativity means to get yourself out of the box and give yourself permission to play, explore and have fun?
In this episode, we’ll explore what creativity actually means, the origins of the word and associated meanings throughout history and then how we can use this knowledge to really open up what creativity means for ourselves as individuals.
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Welcome to Creative Power, a podcast designed to help you claim the full spectrum of your creative potential. I’m Camilla, Fellas Arnold, and I’m passionate about discussing how we change the face of both the creative industries, and how we interact with creativity itself, so that it nourishes our soul, and helps us express ourselves with alignment, flow and authenticity. Let’s get started.
Welcome to episode two of Creative Power. Today, I want to talk to you about redefining the term creativity because I very often hear people say, I’m not a creative person. And I disagree. So let’s dive in and break this down. And you’ll see what I mean.
I feel that as society we narrow down what our concept of creativity is, or usually we think of being artistic as expressing our creativity. It is, after all, the most obvious definition of creativity. But is it the only way we can define it? Art is, after all, hugely subjective. So why are we all prescribing to the same vision of what creativity looks like? Can it not be up for interpretation to?
It makes me so sad when I hear people say they’re not creative, because I honestly believe that we all have that potential. We all have that capability to be creative in some way, shape, or form. But we’re so preoccupied with labelling ourselves, particularly at school, you’ll know what I mean, there was always people at school, you know, you had the sporty one, the smart one, the creative one. And we got so hung up on those labels, that we forgot to take it off, and look at what it really means to be creative.
So for this episode, when I was thinking about what I was going to say, I had a look at the etymology of the word creative, and thought it would be helpful to break it down. Now I have done a bit of research, I promise, I won’t bore you too much. But it is important, in my opinion, to understand where this word even comes from, and how it’s historically been used. So get ready for a surprise.
Creativity comes from a Latin word, and forgive my pronunciation if I get it wrong – creare – meaning to create or make. In English, there’s evidence that the term creates was appearing as early as the 14th century. But now here’s the really interesting thing. Back in the 14th century, when create was being used as a term, it was used solely to indicate Divine Creation.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I hear Divine Creation, I don’t exactly picture God sitting at an easel painting landscapes. I mean, God certainly could do that. Not going to put the divine creator in a box at all, no judgement here. But in the context of the 14th century, divine creation is talking about creating, well, everything, the world as we know it. So how about that for opening up what it means to be creative?
In fact, it wasn’t until the 17th and 18th centuries, that creativity started being used to describe things created by humans during the Age of Enlightenment, aka the age of reason. Without getting into it too much, the Age of Enlightenment was a period of emerging reason, the pursuit of knowledge, separation of church and state, state, etc, etc.
And somehow, during this time period, we had the audacity to claim creation as a human act, putting us on par with God. Isn’t that magnificent? And since we as humans weren’t creating all living beings in the same way as God, we started to look at what we did create, and started to use the term for creation of art.
Does that seem like a little bit of a random leap for you? It did seem like a little bit of a jump for me when I first learned about it. But when I really thought it through and thought about what I experienced as a creative, as a creator, I realised it made perfect sense.
So, you know, when you get into that state of complete and utter flow, it’s like a Zen moment. It’s almost meditative state, where whatever you were doing or creating is simply flowing out of you. And you wonder where it’s coming from, because it’s got this ethereal quality to it.
Some people believe, and I imagine that back in the 17th 18th century, they believe this to that what you were doing is channelling something divine. It’s coming from God, Spirit, the universe, whatever you believe in. And I think that that belief that some people were given this gift from God, as it were, to create something beautiful is why creation started being attributed to humans.
And not only as a divine act, I mean, I’m just speculating at this point. But in my head, that is how I have bridged the gap in understanding how we leaped from Divine Creation, to human creativity. Either way, it’s, it’s really quite amazing how the concept of creating and creation has evolved over the years. But on a serious note, when we start talking about humans, as the creators, we began to attribute it to artistic pursuits.
It’s kind of been a downward spiral ever since until, here we are today, where many people believe, quite wrongly in my opinion, that you are either creative, or you’re not. This loops back to what I said earlier about us all wearing these labels of being the sporty one, the smart one, the creative one, etc.
If rooted in the concept of human creation, is this notion that it’s divinely channelled from God, then, of course, people are going to feel like they can or they can’t claim it. It’s suddenly not this fluid thing that’s open to interpretation, which really goes against what art is in the first place, doesn’t it?
But what if the reason that some of us think that is divine in its origin, or that some people have a God given talent for this creativity is because when you get into that real state of creative flow, your ego disappears. And you’re creating and you’re making, from a place so deep within your soul, that it doesn’t even feel like yourself, because the way that we know ourselves is through our ego.
So without our ego in the way, it almost doesn’t feel like us, creating, it feels like it’s coming from somewhere divine – that’s kind of a deep thought! But what I mean to say is creative flow, that that beautiful meditative phase of creating, where it’s just pouring out of you so profoundly, that you can’t help yourself, you can’t stop yourself and everything you are creating is simply gold.
And I know, you’ll know what I mean, when I describe it like that, because I’m sure you’ve experienced it, even if just the once in your life. When it’s flowing out of you like that, you are not thinking, your ego is not in the way you are simply present in the moment, making, creating, doing speaking, writing, thinking, whatever is.
So when your ego is quiet, because you are in the flow and you are present, it can almost feel like it’s not coming from us. That it’s coming from someplace else, because so many of us are defined by our ego and by our inner voice.
That inner voice by the way, that’s often the critic that makes us hate what we do, or it stops us trying in the first place in order to keep us firmly within our comfort zone. That however, is a story for another day. I’m not getting into that today.
But by staying within our comfort zone with this label of being not creative, or a particular type of creative metaphorically stuck on our heads. It means that we never explore the possibilities of being creative. We don’t get to find out how we can redefine creativity. How we can bring more creativity into perhaps are not very creative lives?
I found that embracing the idea of being creative, not only is it enriching in itself, but it also leads to a more colourful, vibrant, fun life. And you’ll know what I mean, when I say we certainly could do with a bit more fun in our lives right now, can’t we?
Here’s a curious thing, though, as I was researching the origins of creativity, listen to this definition from the Cambridge dictionary, quote, unquote, the ability to produce original and unusual ideas, or to make something new or imaginative.
Where in the definition, does it state that creativity has to produce tangible art? Here’s a hint. It doesn’t. What it does mention his originality. It talks about unusual ideas, the new and then crucially, it’s also about imagination, which I believe is what lies at the crux of creativity.
We’ve been led to believe that creativity must result in something tangible, and most likely artistic. But actually, if you look at the origins of the word, and even the current definition, from Cambridge, dictionary, as I just mentioned, tangible outcomes are not even mentioned.
So this is where I come full circle back to my original point, we stick these labels on ourselves, but does it make us feel any better? And by calling ourselves not creative, we are missing out on so many possibilities, and shutting down our potential to enrich our lives. Because creativity could look like having to solve a problem.
Imagine, I don’t know you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere on a camping trip with no phone signal, and you’ve got some kind of problem. You in that moment, look around, see what resources you have, you will tap into your knowledge, your long term memory, and you will come up with an inventive solution to save the day that my friend is created.
Or imagine, your child asks you a question about something and you’re driving, so you can’t just hop on your phone to give them an in depth explanation of why the sky is blue. Instead, you’ve got to think on your feet for how you can give them a satisfactory answer. Or perhaps at that point, you learn to spend the question back to why they think the sky is blue. Or maybe turn into a game of what could have made the sky blue. All of that involves creativity and creative thinking.
Do you see where I’m going with this? I mean, yes, of course, creativity and art go together. But creativity can be found in the small things too. It can be found in a brand new idea or solving a problem. Creativity can be thinking about something in a new way, as I’m encouraging you to do right now about creativity itself.
If we go back to that Cambridge dictionary definition, gardening could be interpreted as creative, because you are sowing seeds to grow plants, you are creating your garden as you would like it to be in your vision.
Or, you know, that night before the food shop when all the cupboards are bare, and you’re tired, and you need to make dinner. So you just pull a load of random ingredients together and come up with something that is surprisingly edible. That’s creativity right there.
Oh, and did I forget to mention one massive act of creation and creativity, one that is an inherent part of human nature… reproduction, creating a whole new life. If that isn’t creation, then I don’t know what it is.
In fact, the more you look, the more you’ll realise you were already being creative in all sorts of ways big and small. The trick is to give yourself permission, take the label off that says I’m not creative, or the label that says I’m a painter, not a sculptor, not a writer. Take all those labels off entirely and just look at the things that you can do. You can be creative in all sorts of ways regardless of artistic ability. Isn’t that rather amazing?
And that’s the part of work that I love doing, really opening up what creativity means for people and how they can invite it into their lives. For me, that is creative power. It’s in the claiming and owning any and all of your creative abilities, or at the very least, opening yourself up to the possibility that they exist within you, and giving yourself permission to explore it.
Like at the beginning of the episode when I said about art, and therefore creativity being subjective, allow it to be. So if you need permission, then I am giving it to you right now, go ahead and redefine creativity for yourself.
It might not mean that you become a painter. But it might mean that if a situation at work comes up, where you need to draw a visual of an idea, you don’t become paralysed because of some deep rooted belief that you are not artistic.
More than that, you don’t need to apologise for your own perceived lack of skill or talent. Because, you know, I’ve been in art galleries, and I’ve seen massive canvases, floor to ceiling that are just a couple of shades of red. There’s a whole illustrative style built on so called naive drawing.
And it’s all valid.
It all has meaning.
It all expresses something whether we understand it or not. And there’s the crux of it, isn’t it? We don’t have to truly understand creativity. And we certainly don’t need to understand what everyone else’s creative expression is. What is important, is giving ourselves the opportunity to try and let ourselves explore what it means to be creative humans in any and all ways, shapes and forms.
As I get to the end of this episode, I am giving you permission right now, to let go of your labels and find joy in creation. I invite you to take a breath and give yourself permission too.
And now I invite you to go out and have some fun. Just try and explore have a look at what you do. And relabel it as a creative act. Open yourself up to trying some new things that could be creative, that could be fun. And just see what opens up for you.
I’d love to hear your experiences of what you feel that creativity is or isn’t for you, and how you are inviting it more into your life or how you’ve listened to this episode and hopefully will go out there and try and invite some more into your life. I would love to hear from you. So please do send me a message. Connect with me on social media and let me know. So I’d love to hear how you are redefining creativity. Thanks for listening.
Thanks for listening to Creative Power today. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your friends and consider leaving a review. To find out more ways you can connect or work with me, please visit www.camillafellasarnold.com/creativepower