Tomorrow begins Create 31, for which a small group of friends will join together to engage individually in a creative project of their choice during thirty-one days of May. During a Zoom meeting yesterday, we talked about possible projects. The question arose, “What counts as a creative project?” And we concluded that creative acts are much more than just creating something artistic like a poem, painting, or song.
But this morning I began to wonder: What is creativity, anyway? Scanning websites, I found that most people agree that creativity includes using the imagination to form and enact new ideas. It also involves being receptive to new ideas and experiences and thinking divergently, especially by mentally exploring a number of possible solutions, often quickly (since that’s how the brain works). But it need not be a forehead-slapping “aha!” Rather, creativity is often involved in common household decisions + actions.
Workarounds, for example. I suspect that most of us frequently employ them, like finding a substitute in our pantry for a recipe ingredient we don’t have, figuring out how to mend bad feelings with a friend after having “words,” or deciding how to find room in our small garden plot for those heirloom tomato sets we bought on impulse. Everyone is creative! Cool, huh?
Cleaning, too. A possible creative project mentioned yesterday involved increasing storage space by getting rid of stuff. In fact, since Covid-19 keeps us mostly at home, some of us have embarked on long-ignored tasks like going through those boxes of old photos, children’s art, other mementos, and things in general we’ve been loath to part with for sentimental reasons, objects in our attics, closets, and garages that hold memories, stories, and feelings. The act of deciding what to give away and who to give it to, as well as what to keep and what to trash often takes creative thinking.
But, of course, being creative does require having a “product” of some sort that can (at least theoretically) be known by others. The product can be a meal, mended feelings, tomatoes grown in decorative pots, or a less cluttered house and mind (and perhaps making people happy with the cool things you gave away).
Now, none of the above is meant to pooh-pooh what most people think of as creative acts. If you’re so inclined, involve yourself in visual, musical, fabric, dance, photography, and/or writing projects. Or whatever is your passion. Or maybe you want to try something new, to explore, to take risks, to jump out of your self-imposed box. Jazz great Duke Ellington once said, “When it sounds good, it is good.” And I say, in the context of this project: When it feels creative to you, it is creative. In other words, if you think it’s creative, then it is creative.
My initial look at creativity suggests in simplified form something like this: Need/passion > divergent thinking + imagination > action > “product” = creativity. Everyone is creative! Sometimes, though, I need a little push to get to the last part of this process, to put into action a creative project I’m passionate about – like returning, after a long hiatus, to this blog. Maybe you need a little push too, which is what Create 31 is all about.
Basic Guidelines for Create 31
1. Choose a creative project (or more than one).
2. Let the group know what it is.
3. Attempt to work on it for a minimum of 15 minutes each day throughout May.
4. Give yourself grace if you miss a day or two now and then.
5. Use this group for support, encouragement, and sharing your experiences and progress.
6. I’ll check in with the group frequently and hope you will too.
7. As May 31 approaches, we’ll decide how to wrap-up Create 31 and whether any of us want to continue with our projects or start new ones – and whether we even want a timeframe.
8. Thoughout, know that you are creative!
Photo: A part of one of my bookshelves, with candle curls on top that I accumulated over time. I consider it a wax sculpture. And it continues to grow.