When I was a kid, creativity meant making a lovely drawing or concoct pictures in delightful colour schemes. Neither of these was me, nor tidy handwriting or any skills in arts and crafts.
My refuge was in stories, and in my imagination, I would keep characters close by long after finishing the book. I didn’t recognise the creativity in re-imagining those characters and repurposing the stories in the real world.
The American physicist David Bohm, the author of the classic book, On Creativity, defines a creative spirit as someone who ‘wishes to find in the reality in which he lives a certain oneness and totality or wholeness, constituting a kind of harmony.’
Creativity then is not a label, not a vocation, not an exclusive skill but a way of perpetually searching for connectivity, staying fresh to new ideas and practices of perceiving the world.
Two things made me realise that I was creative and set me on the writing path. The first was my part-time degree which I started in my 20s and finished in my 30s.
The Open University degree in humanities gave me the confidence to express my ideas and translate different information sources.
The second, in my 30s, was a playwriting class that, with a single exercise, opened the door to creating characters and engaging with the stories I made; rather than other people’s stories.
And once these kinds of doors are opened, they’re impossible to close again. Or so the romantic storyteller in me believes.
These two mindset shifts have been critical in my ability to write stories that have won a couple of awards, to spend hours in the imaginative space and just as important to recognise the creativity in others.
I’m not talking about other writers but cooks who combine cuisines from different cultures, virtual assistants who can help you realise your ambitions by helping you work differently. The postman who has a new joke when delivering your mail.
For thousands of years, says Bohm, we have been trained to use tools rather than instinct, methods over learning and other people’s definitions of creativity when it already exists within us.
I work with businesses looking for help to articulate their product or service differently, in a way that is unique to them but universal to their customers.