I’ve been thinking about creativity lately. When I was a kid I wanted to be an artist. That lasted for quite awhile too –  far longer than the wanting to be an genetic engineer stage. But as I got older and adult realism set in, I didn’t end up in art or design or anything like that. For pragmatic reasons I ended up in technical writing and computer science and I actually spent a lot of years thinking I was not a very creative person.

Still, I wonder how we define or recognize creativity. Everyone knows people who can pick up a pencil and draw a fabulous sketch, but I realize that artistic ability is different than being creative. And even if I think about creativity as simply the ability to create, I still tend to think of it in terms of the arts. The problem is that I’m not a musician, or an artist, or a creative writer. I enjoy all of them, but don’t consider myself talented in any of them. Well, okay, maybe writing, but I don’t write stories or books or poetry.

So why am I frustrated by the thought that I am not a creative person? Our culture values a lot of things, and I suppose creativity is one of them. I think it’s just that as a child I reveled in creativity and for a long time I couldn’t seem to do that. However, as I have been mulling on this lately, I have started thinking about a broader definition of creativity.

In my pre-children career days, my job involved a lot of problem solving. I took a department that was very low functioning and made it very high functioning, and I loved it. I absolutely enjoyed taking a problem situation, envisioning how it should be, and mapping the steps to get it there. I loved project management and oversaw several large and successful software implementations. I am a organized and detailed person and it was a lot of fun to watch something take shape, beginning with a project plan on paper and then seeing it all become fleshed out and finally finished. Only recently have I been able to see the creativity in this.

More recently I have enjoyed taking up sewing again. I did a lot of sewing as a teenager but not much in the intervening years. And I have been so excited to have a house again and be able to pick paint colors and think about making curtains and buying cheap furniture to slipcover. I can see in my head the room I want to have and get a lot of satisfaction in seeing the baby steps toward the goal. I love to cook and rarely use a recipe. Planning a menu and combing flavors and textures and colors is a fun exercise for me. And as I have thought about creativity and my life, I have come to realize that maybe I am more creative than I thought, but in a different way.

Beloved and I were talking about this and his comment was that creativity took a lot more time and work than people think. Being creative doesn’t mean you can sit down and whip out a masterpiece in twenty minutes. Sometimes you have to do draft after draft of something, finding new ways to combine the elements or techniques, before you are happy with the results. My mother is a fiber artist and it’s been interesting to me to see how much time she spends in research and test bits before she actually gets to her project.

So I’m thinking about creativity differently these days. I am thinking about the kind of life I want to have, the home I want to have and the daily tasks I do, and thinking about how to express myself through them. I am thinking about not settling for the first draft because I don’t consider myself a creative person, but persisting and getting it to what I really like, because I am a creative person.

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