What Creativity Is. And Isn’t.

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Creativity is not about prettiness or cuteness. It is messy and often ugly.

Creativity involves squeezing together two or more things from different fields that don’t seem to belong with one another until something new pops out.

Although the creative process can be divided into sub-routines, these don’t always have to follow one another in a formulaic sequence and can be remixed, repeated, skipped, and reconfigured.

Creativity is not easy. It’s damned hard work.

Creativity isn’t just for the young.

Creativity is not solely the domain of artists, designers, or ‘right-brained’ people.

What seems like creative inspiration is most often the result of a long period of observation, incubation, and rebounding off dead ends.

Creativity involves being both vulnerable enough to put your ideas into the spotlight, and resilient enough to keep working at improving them when they melt.

Creativity is certainly ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking. But it can also involve transforming and reshaping the box from within, by re-imagining the box, or putting it to a new use. And it must at times also involve forgetting that there is a box at all.

Creativity involves solving difficult puzzles. Easy problems do not need creative solutions.

Creativity often involves practice, experimentation, and tinkering.

Traditional thinking will always constrain creativity. But overcoming this is part of the process.

The most successful creative teams are also the most diverse. New ideas flourish where there is difference.


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Failure and learning from getting it wrong are essential parts of the creative process.

Creative people are open to inspiring ideas wherever they occur. Like an apple falling on the head.

Creative people question basic assumptions.

Creativity flourishes best under constraints. You don’t get the best ideas by spending the most money or time on a project.

Creativity is generative. Creative ideas trigger other creative ideas.

The most creative ideas both transcend and connect diverse fields.

Creativity isn’t intuitive. It often questions and goes against common sense.

Creativity is a process. And it is iterative.

Creative types don’t necessarily look and act peculiar.

Creativity is not simply newness. It is newness with a practical purpose.


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The creative process can be a private and independent process, but it is better as a collaborative exercise.

Creativity is as much about transforming the person who is working creatively as it is about transforming the product.

Creativity is not purely practical – nor is it purely theoretical and intellectual.

There is room for a more creative approach in every field of human endeavor.

Creativity thrives on curiosity and imagination and playfulness.

Creativity is often stunted by premature criticism.


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Unfamiliarity breeds creativity.

Creative ability is not something we are born with. It is the result of our dispositions and contexts.

Creativity can be learned.

Creativity does not have to be paradigm-shifting and world-changing. It can be just as meaningful when it involves small or personal micro-revolutions.

Most of the toil involved in creating something new goes unnoticed.

Creativity involves both divergent and convergent thinking at different stages of the process.

Creativity is often the serendipitous result of a happy accident or coincidence. But it takes a creative person to see this.


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If a creative product were a child, it would not be enough simply to give birth to it. We must also nurture it, help it to grow, and play our part in helping it to fulfill its promise.

Technology can both enhance and stunt creativity.

Creativity must be ongoing. Today’s great idea is tomorrow’s hackneyed old thing.

Creativity loves ill-defined problems. And generally begins by refining them.

Creativity isn’t necessarily novelty. Sometimes a dusty old idea can be restored and refurbished into something amazing.

A large part of creativity involves copying old things in new ways.

Creativity is more often controversial than safe.


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