What does it mean to be creative?

So, let us start from the basics. What is creativity? A simple definition of creativity states that “Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scientific theory, a musical composition, or a joke) or a physical object (such as an invention, a literary work, or a painting).” We tend to associate creativity with creating something concrete, like paintings or songs, but it is important to recognize the role of the intangible objects in creating something new.

After all, any concrete objects started out as merely the idea for that object. So if you feel down about being a daydreamer who never realized any of their dreams, don’t: dreaming is an act of creation in itself. Often it is more satisfying to make the dreams come true, but that is often just a question of time management and getting organized. But if you have a dream or an idea, you have already been creative. Creativity can manifest itself in all aspects of life. Browsing around the supermarket and being inspired to cook certain items is being creative. Making a list of things you want to do on a holiday is being creative.

Organising your desk in a new way is being creative. So why are art and creativity so tightly connected if creativity is actually everywhere? It seems that we make an implicit distinction between practical creativity, that aims at solving everyday problems, and “impractical” creativity, which manifests itself in art. What distinguishes art from other things is that it does not serve any other purpose besides aesthetic enjoyment or appreciation. So even if we are all creative beings, many of us feel that we should only be doing things that have direct practical value.

And that is what may shackle our creativity. Once we let go of the idea that either we do something useful or we do nothing, we are on the path to unleash our creativity. Many of us spend hours of our leisure time every day doing basically nothing: we watch Netflix, TV, or movies, mindlessly browse the internet, or scroll through social media. But what if instead you accepted that you can do things that have no practical value? That is the beginning for your new, creative life.