Let's Not Talk About Creativity Anymore

That's right, you heard me.  I - who call myself a "Creativity Coach" - am genuinely not interested in talking about "creativity" any more. 


Eddie Izzard vehemently agrees with me...I imagine.  And he's a rampantly creative human, so he should know.

Eddie Izzard vehemently agrees with me...I imagine.  And he's a rampantly creative human, so he should know.

I know it sounds heretical, but hear me out.

Objection #1:  Creativity as Innate and Art-related

First of all, the idea of "creativity" is most often understood as the innate personal quality that leads to an ability to make art or come up with new ideas.  As such, "creativity" comes with lots of unhelpful associations as being something you either have or don't have, and is easily confused as a synonym for being "artistic."

Objection #2:  Creativity as a Happiness Pill

I'm going to let Robert Fritz, author of Creating, The Path of Least Resistance, and many other books explain this second objection...because he does it so well.

"Creativity [is often] seen as a nice little thing to add to your life that will somehow make you happier, in a similar way that adding a hot tub to your home might make you happier.  Creativity is viewed on the same level as positive thinking, New Age philosophy, and human potential training.  Unfortunately, when people think of the subject in this way, they leave the creative process unaddressed and envision creativity as the magic pill that will transform them to a new height of enjoyment in life." - Robert Fritz

Of course, there's nothing wrong with seeking happiness and enjoyment.  But there is a way that "Creativity" gets tossed around in the same conversations as "meditation" or "juice cleanses" or "placenta pills"... something we think we should probably try in our quest to be healthier, happier, or more productive human beings.   (Please don't misunderstand me - I'm not saying that meditation is a fad, I'm saying that "mindfulness" - like "creativity" - is easily packaged as a "magic pill" by a marketplace culture that sells commodities by convincing consumers that they should be filling gaps, constantly improving, and alleviating pain.)

OK, so what DO I want to talk about?

I want to talk about two things:

1.  I DO want to talk about creating and/or the creating process,

by which I mean the active process of bringing into existence something new that matters to you.  That "something new that matters to you" might be something 'in the arts', but it might just as well be a relationship, or a business, or a better way to organize your community, or a deeper practice for apprehending the sacred in your life. Once you are in the arena of the creating process, the question of your personal 'creativity' quickly becomes a non-issue.  The important questions that arise as you create are things like:  "Did you know that moving from the generation space to the manifestation space is a universal crisis zone for creators?" "How are you engaging with the Void?"  "Whatcha going to do when you run into intellectual or emotional challenges?" and, oh yeah, "How's that fear-management going?"

2.  I also want to talk about being a creator, living as a creator, and what that means for how you show up in your inner life, and how you show up in the world.  

Being a creator means being a person with agency, with self-awareness, with the capacity to meet - and the willingness to be transformed by - the challenges of the creating process.  A creator is, by definition, a person of courage, of audacity, of vision.  I don't mean the grandiose notion of being a capital V "visionary."  I mean being a person willing to fall in love with things that don't exist yet but that matter to them as much as anything.  A person willing to dive in and try to make those beloved possibilities come into form.  A person willing to engage deeply and unflinchingly with the reality of what IS now, and - from that basis in awareness of current reality - get to work creating something new that moves the world - or simply your world - forward.

In her book of essays, Upstream, the poet Mary Oliver says, 

“In creative work – creative work of all kinds – those who are the world’s working artists are not trying to help the world go around, but forward.” 

Now, don’t get hung up on Oliver’s use of the word “artists” here!  (Yes, you.)  By italicizing the words “all kinds,” she’s signaling that she is speaking about all creators.  She is saying that when we are engaged in the creating process, we join with all other creators in advancing and improving the world. 

Even when it feels like our creating work is taking us around and around again, if we are truly engaging with all of its challenges – the need to push in the direction of our fear; the need to marshal and sustain our concentration; the need to persevere in the absence of guarantees or evidence of likely success; the need to endure times of utter groundlessness - the creating process is also moving us outward and upward both individually and collectively.  Our creating both stretches us and evolves our culture, expanding the possibilities for everyone. 

and THAT's worth talking about - don't you think???