This post was sparked by an interesting article I read at the weekend on Creativity by Ayd Instone, who has worked with Oxford University Press, Macmillan Publishers, a range of UK Universities and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Ayd has a degree in Physics and Physical Science BSc(hons) and has worked as a technical author. He is the author of four published books about creativity and innovation. In the article he discusses people’s conceptions of creativity and their misconceptions about what it is and whether creativity is born or made. The frequency with which the nature/nurture debate crops up led me to think about why people are so intrigued by creativity, and by whether we are born with a determined set of skills, or whether we can learn to become creative.
When I was younger I was persuaded that creative types were dancers, artists, photographers and musicians. I didn’t even consider authors; as far as I was concerned, Enid Blyton and Judy Blume’s words magically appeared on the page without any planning or inspiration from the authors. I gave no thought to the process behind writing the books which I devoured over the years. As time rolled on, and my reading tastes changed, morphing through a selection of C.S. Lewis and John Buchan, Yeats and travel diaries, photography books and biographies, I left university to pursue a teaching career and I met creativity in the form of Lawyers, Scientists and, yes, even Accountants. We have preconceived ideas of what creativity is and who carries this illustrious concoction of innovation and ideas.
The reality is that we are all born with a degree of creativity and the extent to which it is used and developed depends on our focus. I have met photographers with great technical ability but little creativity or desire for creativity, and I have watched lawyers branch out into painting and music, or bring creativity into their daily working life. The misconception that creativity is only or a select few paralyses people into thinking that they can’t or shouldn’t try new skills, that they can’t bring creativity into their jobs and their everyday lives.
As a writer, creativity comes to me in the form of ideas and stories, but it is fuelled by how I choose to spend my time: reading, visiting galleries, watching films, travelling, collecting photography books and going to the World Press Photo Awards each year. The form it takes and the inspiration will vary from person to person, but what we choose to spend our time on will fuel how creative we become. It will feed our minds and grow and morph into something new. How are you going to spend your time?
For those of you who are following my short story releases, Skeleton Bunker was published today.