Thursday, 13 August 2015

Writing - Why creativity matters.

Creativity is an aspect of life that some people claim they haven't any, or they have, and quite often even the most creative people seem to play down their expertise. Author Alexander McCall Smith has explored why we get creative.

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Alexander McCall Smith

Smith is the author of the 'No 1 Ladies Detective Agency' series and the 'Scotland Street' novels amongst many others. His books have been translated into 40 languages and all this after a career as a Professor in Medical Law at Edinburgh University. Even given this very prestigious resume he has a refreshingly simplistic view of people and creativity, which I like.

He said,

"It deals with our fundamental desire as people to create or make something, that’s what we’re like."

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There are many quotes about why we're creative. Albert Einstein said that Creativity is intelligence having fun" which I don't agree with as it could be construed as suggesting that only intelligent people can be creative which of course is patently not true.
In fact my belief is that creativity is an integral part of human nature. It develops in different ways and can even be the tool used to solve a problem. 

Imagine that you're a caveman looking to dig up nutritious roots. It is a task you have carried out before, it isn't easy but the rewards are good. In the past you've dug with your bare hands many times and it is a painful process. That is when your ability as a human engages that part of your brain that allows you to think outside the box. You need something to dig with. So you either find something that will do or having gone through this process several times you decide to create something suitable and more lasting.

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prehistoric digging tools

Not only do you create a digging tool but you decorate the handle. Why would prehistoric man, without the stimuli of great artworks, do that? Indeed why did early man produce cave paintings? There seems to be an in-built need to record our actions and decorate the results. But it doesn't stop there.

Recording our achievements in writing is almost as old as man himself. Whether the records are in picture form, symbolic or alphabetic, we've been recording. But even in the relatively staid alphabetic writings there was beautifully illuminated lettering. Why is that? The fact is that the human mind requires an outlet for the innate creativity with which we are all endowed.

Alexander McCall Smith also said,

"It doesn’t really matter if what you create is not something that’s necessarily going to be appreciated by other people you’ll have enjoyed doing it. So I think there are many, many arguments for being creative."

This is something I firmly believe and in part not just because  I've not sold truck loads of books but because I've a need to create. Without wanting to sound conceited or big headed, I have had a go at painting, drawing, knitting as well as writing poetry and fiction. At no time have I ever begun these tasks with the sole purpose of making money, if that had been the case I would have given up years ago. The reason is simple. I have a need to create!

If you are on the verge of being creative then go for it for your own sake. Keep out of your mind the need to sell your wares as that is a capitalistic stumbling block that could cause you to fail to satisfy your creative urge and is, in my opinion, partly responsible for the phenomenon 'writers' block'. 

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Creativity should only be limited by the extent to which your brain can travel outside the box. So set it free and enjoy the journey.

God Bless