Demystifying Creativity

In today’s culture many myths about creativity abound, the most damaging of which is the idea that creativity and talent are synonymous. This faulty assumption has grown over time as the arts have been relegated to the realm of the professional. Historically, creative art was part of the community and all members participated. Everyone sang, danced, told stories and participated in visual arts experiences. As cultural and educational institutions have evolved, exposure and participation to the arts have been limited for many unless they are identified as possessing a “talent” or “gift” for the arts. In short, creativity is often seen as a precious commodity in short supply or something elusive and mysterious that one either possesses or does not. (Epstein, 1996) This is pure rubbish. visual journaling imagination example

Another myth about creativity is that it is synonymous with intelligence. Research indicates that environment is more important than genetics and that imagination and creativity is often nurtured or discouraged by practices in the home and/or school settings (Gale, 1998). Amabile (1992) cites research found both high and low levels of creativity with children of high and average intelligence.

visual journaling imagination exampleWhat is creativity? That which is both novel and useful. (Haier & Jung, 2008) Amabile (1989) described creativity in children as behavior that is novel and appropriate. Cameron (1992) believes that creativity is a spiritual process and is our true nature, our life energy. The Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2009) defines creativity as the ability to create or the quality of being creative. Gale (1998) describes it as the ability to innovate, make art or problem-solve using a novel, unconventional or original approach.

There are many books and articles on how to enhance one’s creativity with common themes emerging.
  • Participation in new experiences and learning
  • Associating with those who will support your creative efforts and offer constructive, not destructive, feedback
  • Challenging yourself with permission to fail
  • Allowing time for spontaneity and imagination (daydreaming counts)
Creativity: it’s not just for the professionals anymore!
Amabile, T. (1992) Growing Up Creative. Buffalo, NY. CEF Press
creativity. (2009). In Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved August 30, 2009, from
 Epstein, R. (Jul/Aug 1996) Capturing Creativity. Psychology Today
Gale, T. (1998) Creativity. Healthline. Retrieved August 30, 2009, from
Haier, R. and Jung, R. (2008). Brain Imaging Studies of Intelligence: What is the Picture for Education? Roeper Review, 30:171-180