Creativity Is Not Always Child’s Play

All you need for an excellent exercise that stimulates a young child’s imagination is a blank sheet of paper and a few crayons of different colors. A creative spirit and busy little hands will do the rest. It’s not so easy for us adults! While creativity can be as easy as child’s play, for an artist or a craftsman, creativity can mean painstaking work.

Creativity is also an integral part of any work environment, and it’s not surprising that creativity in business drives profitability.

Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid

The Magic and Wonder of Creativity
Small clumps of different-colored clay can make a bigger clump of multicolored clay. It’s one thing to mix ingredients and come up with something interesting. It’s quite another to conceive a totally new way of looking at things that leads to an unexpected result.

The work of a creative artist can make us pause in awe and wonder. Creativity can transform the mundane into the useful or the sublime. A talented artist only needs a handful of colors. His ability to create an appealing or emotional effect by combining a few available elements can translate into a magical outcome or the perfect result.

Creativity at Work

Quantum Leaps of Creativity
Some riddles are so difficult to decipher that we have to make quantum leaps of creativity to arrive at their solution. We intuitively understand that if you apply force to an object it will move. We quickly grasp why we need more force to move a heavier object. It takes a substantial leap of creativity to figure out that if you’re moving fast enough, time literally slows down.

Water emerges from two invisible gases, hydrogen and oxygen. Nothing about those two gases would predict what water is like. Quantum leaps dominate in creation everywhere we look but especially in the startling, beautiful novelty of life-forms on Earth.
–Deepak Chopra

Rules and Creativity: Putting Theory Into Practice
Fortunately for us, most creative endeavors have rules. If you want to write a convincing and emotionally satisfying plot, there are rules you can follow. The theory behind the rules was proposed in 335 BC by Aristotle and they haven’t changed much since. A painter’s knowledge of the theories of light, perspective and color enables him to create a stunning three-dimensional portrait on a canvas of two dimensions.

The Tedium in Creativity: Getting the Facts Straight
It’s a fallacy to think that creative work means you don’t have to deal with facts. Most novels contain narrative passages that require research. The writer has to gather and organize bits of general information, historical events and geographical details. A vivid setting with accurate details can help bring a plot to life and make the story realistic. Even a make-believe world has to be consistent and should be subject to some rules of cause and effect.

Where Creative Insights Come From
If you immerse yourself in the theory of your work and the facts of your project, creative insights will come to you like bolts from the blue when you least expect it. Creative people are those who are most receptive to their own intuitions. They know that insights come from their interpretation and understanding of basic knowledge and available information.

They have faith that a new insight will come to save the day. Every time they get “stuck,” they go back to doing something called for by the basics until they get another insight. They master the basics and stay in tune with their work.

Creativity Requires Commitment
All work requires planning and focus. Creative work is no different. You can’t carry out a plan and you won’t be able to focus if you don’t have time. It’s a valuable asset—and like all valuable assets—you shouldn’t squander time because it’s scarce. There’s never enough.

This is why making priorities and setting goals are so important. Setting priorities will help you manage your time. Having a goal will keep you focused.

What works for you when you need to be creative?

Gary GauthierGary Gauthier is working on his first novel, a crime thriller set in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. In real life, he works for a small publishing company no one’s ever heard of and that publishes books no one reads.

His blog, Literary Snippets, gives him an opportunity to express and share his appreciation for art and literature. He occasionally posts articles as well. Some of his favorite writers are Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe. But this changes from time to time. Stay tuned! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

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16 responses to “Creativity Is Not Always Child’s Play

  1. karenselliott

    Creativity is so fleeting sometimes. I get the most awesome ideas when I am playing with my grandsons and see their abandon, while chatting with friends, reading blogs like this! Many of my lightning-bolt ideas come when I don’t have a pen (ack!) or in the middle of the night. Creativity can be subdued with too many facts, though I do agree – people, plot, and places need to remain consistent throughout the piece.

  2. You are so right about the ideas coming in a flash and disappearing, Karen. I think I lose about half of my ‘great’ ideas that way. And those darn facts! Don’t you just hate it when you get caught up in details?

  3. As in all things, the creative person must balance facts with the creative flow. Too many facts make a work of art boring or downright ugly. Too few make it a piece of fluff, insubstantial.
    I think creativity is innate for all humans, but the other elements of each person’s make-up determine how, when and if that creativity will be tapped. For me, the creativity came through with visual arts. I’m tapping that creative flow from a different angle now in writing books. When it isn’t flowing as fast as I’d like, I get outside my office in a different setting and pay attention to the little things in view. I ask myself questions about how something works, or why someone has a limp. That jumpstarts it again.

    • Getting away certainly helps Marcia. Sometimes all we need is a reset or (rest) to get a great idea. I’m into the visual arts as well but only for looking, not doing.

  4. I always love your posts, Gary. So insightful. I definitely hang on for that flash of insight that will solve my story problem. Sometimes I forget that I have to just work through the basics or let my mind wander to open myself up for that insight. Sometimes creativity feels like darn hard work. LOL

    • Thanks for the kind words, Sonia. I can certainly relate to falling for the trap of “thinking hard” to come up with something creative instead of stepping away and let it come to me.

  5. Pingback: How Does Creativity Really Work? « Sonia G Medeiros

  6. Lists. Lists give order to the thoughts milling around in my head, define the problem and then I have room to brainstorm new and different ideas. I love lists!

  7. Checklists are wonderful Lara, especially if you’re forgetful like I am.

  8. Pingback: Creativity Is Not Always Child’s Play | Gary Gauthier

  9. I love the section about creativity requiring commitment because as I delve deeper into the business of writing it becomes clear that those that work hard are the ones making strides ahwad. My favorite learning moment was when someone told me “You don’t have to be moving fast all the time, you just need to be moving forward.” Best advice I ever got.

    • Hi Jess, missed you this week. I’m going to remember your quote because I can get very impatient. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m making progress unless I’m firing on all cylinders, which is clearly a fallacy. It’s all the little steps in the right direction that are important.

  10. I try to roll with those “creative bolts” when inspiration strikes, writing and writing and writing (although when I can’t do that, I still put your 500-words-a-day notion into motion). On days when those bolts can’t be found, I do the part I consider the hardest “work” – researching where more facts and information are needed, editing, etc.

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