Truths about Creativity

March 19, 2007

“Bach supposedly said, “Anyone who works as hard as I do, can do as well”. If that is true, genius is the ability to work hard.
– Foss, L (July 2006) ‘About the creative process’, Yale Review.

For a long time, Creative is a word I dare not associate with myself. It is as if I put myself on the same wavelength as the great filmmakers of our time – Peter Jackson who directed Lord of the Rings, filmmaker Tim Burton or the likes. I must be honest, I grapple with the word Creativity. We hear the word loosely used all the time, “wow! You’re so creative!”, or “I’m not as creative as you are…”, or that the IT industry is less creative than, say, the film industry. So what exactly does it mean to be creative? Can creativity be taught? Am I creative?

I once thought creativity was something that could that could happen on a whim. Those who’d wake up in the middle of a night brimming with eager to write, draw, paint, compose, et cetera. Those creative urges that only belong to the gifted, so I thought. But it seems, one doesn’t create before first learning to walk:

You give a child a pencil and say, “Do something, do anything. Express yourself. Create.” Well, what are children going to do? They will take the pencil and pick their nose. They do not want to express – they want to learn. The first thing children want to learn is how to walk. They are not interested in inventing original things to do with their legs. Here is the child, still horizontal, suppine, and he or she sees people walking. “Wow! That’s what I want to do – walk!”
– Foss, L (July 2006) ‘About the creative process’, Yale Review.

Lukas Foss brings the two words, creativity and genius together. He believes genius is “to put things together that don’t go together, and make it work…” . The other truth is, the notion creativity scares me. Going into this semester with Production Project 1, knowing I will have at the end of the year create a piece of work, that is scary to me. The thought of having a variety of people together in a team – the possible clash of personalities, a melting pot of ideas, the putting together of concepts, and ultimately to get all these to work out. It is slightly unnerving, and it takes one out of his/her comfort zone. It is definitely going to put me on the edge. Production Project will mean pushing me out of my comfort boundaries, taking me a step further with my passions and philosophies, those ideas that usually swim in my head – and then having to articulate them in picture, sound & color.

I love Foss’s analogy of children learning to walk. So, the comforting truth about creativity is, we all start somewhere. When we’ve learnt how to walk, we think about where to go, who to go with and how to get there. In the process of putting all these together, hard work is paramount, passion is pivotal and intellect will somewhat give meaning to the process, but “[courage is] an essential ingredient in view of the impossibly elusive creative process.” (Foss, L (July 2006)).

So, my creative process starts here.


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