I was looking for a public domain image to attach to my Medium story about the 7 Habits of Highly Creative People and I was kind of shocked to discover almost every image was an image of light bulbs. There were a few paint brushes, a couple of colored pencils. And a lot of light bulbs. Cartoon light bulbs. Black and white light bulbs. Rainbow light bulbs. Light bulbs as heads. Light bulbs floating in a sea of nothingness. Old fashioned light bulbs. Very modern lightbulbs. Lots and lots of light bulbs.
And most of the attached captions had to do with imagination.
I guess the equation in people’s minds is: light bulbs = imagination = creativity.
That didn’t sit well with me.
I started to wonder why. Wondering why by the way, is part of creativity. And one could say imagination. So maybe I was looking for a light bulb moment about light bulbs. #meta
Hmmm. I consider myself to be highly creative. Other people refer to me as highly creative. And yet I don’t think of myself as highly imaginative. I might be highly imaginative but blue sky thinking? I don’t consider it my number one skill.
I went to check out the word, and in fact imagination comes from a word that means copy. But we don’t use it that way. We use it to say think of something new. Conjure into existence.
So what are the other parts of creativity?
Resourcefulness came to mind immediately. The willingness to take what is there and make the most of it. Also the ability to even see resources where others might miss them. Sorcerers, those whom we call magicians. Those who conjur spirits. These are acts of creativity. One might say that resourceful people plug into the power of the source.
Some acts of resourceful creativity. Taking your own life and writing about it as memoirists and comedians and storytellers do. Scarlett O’Hara using the curtains to make a ballgown. Tom Waits using his less than amazing voice to craft a style of talk/sing. Graffiti artists.
And then I thought about pain. I thought about how all the artist I know are able, in varying degrees to take the pain that goes with creativity. The willingness to ‘kill your babes’. The rejection. The the dead ends. The bad reviews. The destruction that is part of the create/destroy cycle. Whether its a tolerance for pain, or a willingness to bear the pain that seems intolerable. The not knowing if it will work. The uncertainty of all forms of the blank page. This is not a feeling that everyone can take. The clocking of the 10k hours. The rehearsal, the scales, the bombing, the bad drafts. The athletic nature. The willingness to change.
So for now, this is my equation.
imagination + resourcefulness + tolerance for pain = creativity
There may be other aspects of creativity that are important, I’ll keep thinking about it of course, but for now, I’m going to posit that these three things are umbrellas which include all the others. Feel free to share your thought with me email@example.com. Or sign up for my newsletter, and reply to me there.