I saw a list of words and terms that are considered over-used on LinkedIn and at the top of the list sat the word creative. I’m not surprised by this. These days everybody has to be “creative.”However, over the years I’ve observed that most people haven’t a clue what creative means.
Years ago, a woman I worked with told me how much she envied me because I was “creative.”
She considered me creative because I was a writer. But I gave her a puzzled look and said, “You’re creative.” And then she gave me a puzzled look in return.
She associated the word writer with creativity. In most cases, it would be an obvious association because it’s hard to image someone that writes as not being creative. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that because you write you are creative. Maybe you’re not a particularly good writer. Maybe you just imitate what others do. Maybe you’re an amanuensis.
More to the point, the woman didn’t look at what she did or what she produced in terms of creativity. She didn’t look at herself or her surroundings. As far as hair and attire went, she was the most colour co-ordinated and fashionably dressed people in the office.
Her work area mirrored this. Over time, she had added small plants, pictures and other items so that her environment reflected who she was — co-ordinated, coloured schemed and so on. She was creative on a daily basis.
She just didn’t associate any of that with being creative.
Do you recall the Enron scandal? At the heart of it (other than greed), was creativity. It was creativity used in a cynical and criminal way, but it was creativity with numbers, accounting and loopholes.
Used to describe someone, my dictionary defines creative as, “… having good imagination or original ideas.” It doesn’t constrain the meaning to activities that are considered artistic. It’s worth noting as well that areas considered artistic, like writing, aren’t restricted to the arts. You can be a creative business or technical writer. Writing isn’t all fictional prose and poetry. It’s a craft. It’s a communication tool.
So … don’t pine about being creative. Open your eyes and see what it is you do everyday and see how you do it. Just about everyone is creative and almost every day. They just don’t always see it that way.
But they should. The meaning of the word creative, and what it applies to, is much broader than many people think.