Last week, I was feeling pretty good about this. Things I’ve read suggest that creative genius may not be achievable by everyone, but certain creative abilities probably are. Within that, everyone is likely born with creative potential (just like they are born with the potential for a certain physique or intellect) but only the right environment allows them to fulfill that potential. The forces of conventional society often work against creativity, so most people never realize their full creative potential, but the encouraging thing is that we all have room to grow.
Last week, I felt like I had successfully “enhanced my creativity.” I’m probably not en route to be a creative genius, but I could achieve dependable results after the ritual preparation, incubation and illumination stages of any given daily design.
Then Martin Parker asked me, “Well, isn’t that not creativity then? Isnt’ that just work?” At the time, I shrugged and thought maybe so. Now, Martin Parker, I have your answer. No. It is not just work, because if it were, it wouldn’t have been thrown completely off balance by my second guessing. In the last week, I’ve been preparing, I’ve been incubating, but the illumination has eluded me. What is work is that I’ve had to throw something up here anyway. Maybe the difference is purely personal; maybe no one else can tell which works were creative and which works were just work.
There are (at least) two reasons I do not despair. First, I agree with the psychologists who distinguish between psychological and historical creativity. Psychological creativity is that which is novel and useful to you, even if thousands of other people have done the exact same thing before. And a lot of this project has been creative to me. Second, some good literature on creativity points out that confidence, or “mental certainty,” itself often stands in the way of creativity. The building blocks of creative ideas are often random or unrelated ideas, and descending into that chaos can shed new light on a problem at hand. When you do regain your sense of balance, it will hopefully be a new and novel one which lends itself to seeing the world in a different, “creative”, way.