Creativity, What's That?

The latest installment of my online book club was “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert (of “Eat, Pray, Love” fame) and the question was raised...

What is creativity?

Talk about a question with limitless possibilities. It got me thinking about how I defined creativity. For me, creativity comes down to chasing an idea that inspires me and then endlessly pursuing the final product that I have envisioned in my head. I have to say this process is frustrating, filled with anxiety, and has endless amounts of hope, that is if you can get over the first two feelings. In the book, there is a great paragraph describing the fear within us that comes with the creative process. 

…You’re afraid you have no talent. You’re afraid you’ll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood or—worst of all—ignored. You’re afraid there’s no market for your creativity, and therefore no point in pursuing it. You’re afraid somebody else already did it better. You’re afraid everybody else already did it better. You’re afraid somebody will steal your ideas, so it’s safer to keep them hidden forever in the dark. You’re afraid you won’t be taken seriously. You’re afraid your work isn’t politically, emotionally, or artistically important enough to change anyone’s life. You’re afraid your dreams are embarrassing. You’re afraid that someday you’ll look back on your creative endeavors as having been a giant waste of time, effort, and money…
— Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert


I have found that my tendency is recreation of the same idea numerous times during the process and, many times, one or more of those done-over thoughts are what causes me to change my idea. That is the kicker though – It’s YOUR idea. It’s YOUR dream. It’s YOUR passion. No one else has ownership over your creativity, your creative process, or how you envision the final product in your mind. Sure, people may not like it, but that is not the point. Elizabeth Gilbert says this about what we should focus on:

So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?
— Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

The chance to create something from nothing, and the process with it, is something I truly enjoy. I love looking at the blank screen and thinking, “What will this kidmin ad look like? How will we bring this Bible story to life? How can I visually portray the vision I have for my ministry and the goals we have for our kids?” Those are the questions that get me going, but again fear is always there. Fear, at times, is the best motivator and the book points out that fear cannot be removed from the creative process.

“Fear is always triggered by creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is, however, something to be dealt with.”
— Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Another personal revelation was the conversation about ideas that leave us and get produced by someone else. So many times I will have an idea, not write it down, and then suffer the ad-man conundrum of not being able to remember my “brilliant” idea. Creativity comes and goes, inspiration does the same thing, and, if we don’t record it, we can't expect to be able to recreate the moment that caused the inspiration that led to the creative spark within us to ignite. 

This stuck with me – creativity is ignition of a moment of influence or inspiration.

I loved this question from the book club.

Creativity can be as simple as enjoying a great cup of coffee, exploring the city with my wife, or simply quietly listening to music. Those are the moments when my creative spark tends to go off the most. Being aware of the moments in your routine that reduce the fear and increase the creative process is important. You become aware of the process and you can corner your creativity instead of sitting back and hoping an idea falls into your lap (or your coffee cup). 

To me, this is creativity.

What is creativity to you? 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
CDN$ 26.65
By Elizabeth Gilbert