What is creativity? Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: "... Creativity involves both a process and a result. It springs out of our seeing possibilities that we have not seen before and out of seeing connections between patches of truth and beauty and responding to them in ways we have not done before. Feelings that lead to poetry, mental imagery that leads to painting, and pondering that gives birth to prose are but examples."So here is what I'm giving myself an opportunity to do. Everyday I am going to make (create if you will) something new, original, creative, around one theme--birds. I don't know what I'm going to do, or what I'm going to end up with, all I know is that I will start tomorrow and go for a month. Why even do this? It could get monotonous, right?
Here is what I'm thinking, when does creativity happen? I believe it happens when circumstance gets difficult. When things get hard or complicated you have to create a new way to solve them, obviously the old isn't working. Jack White is a good example of this concept (take a look at his documentary Under Great White Northern Lights) and most any other creative person, (Raphael, Queen Elizabeth, The Beatles). In my busy life it seems that doing one genuinely creative act a day is going to be hard. But hopefully in difficulty I can discover something new about myself and something new about creating. As Elder Maxwell said "...perspiration usually precedes inspiration...Creative work is sweet, but it is work!"
Why creativity is important, or why it even matters in our personal lives is another matter. For help I turn again to the words of those who are wiser than me.
Mary Ellen Smoot spoke in an April 2000 general conference. Her talk was titled "We Are Creators"
She begins her talk by say "We are creators....Creation is one of the characteristics that defines God". In no way am I saying that my month long project of bird art is the Lord's work, but I think there is a lot that can be learned from the skill of Creativity. Sis. Smoot's words are really helpful, and I encourage you to read them, especially if you feel like you are "not creative".
Here is a part I especially like:
We each have to say to ourselves, What will I create of my life? My time? My future?
First, go where the Spirit directs. Be still and Listen.... Be patient, ask in faith, and you will receive guidance in your creative efforts.
Second, don't be paralyzed from fear of making mistakes. Thrust your hands into the clay of your lives and begin. I love how Rebekah of old responded to Abraham's servant who came in search of a wife for Isaac. Her answer was simple and direct, "I will go," she said.
Rebekah could have refused. She could have told the servant to wait until she had the proper send-ff, a new wardrobe, until she lost a few pounds, or until the weather was more promising. She could have said, "what's wrong with Isaac that he can't find a wife in all of Canaan?" but she didn't. She acted, and so should we.
The time for procrastination is over. Begin! Don't be afraid. Do the best you can. Of course you will make mistakes. Everyone does. Learn from them and move forward.
Third, support others along the way. Every person on this earth is unique. We all have varied interests, abilities and skills. We are each at different levels physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Finally, rejoice. Creation isn't drudgery. Creation flows from love. When we do what we love, we rejoice along the way.
I believe that creativity has a very real effect in our lives. There is goodness and beauty that comes when humans push themselves to explore something a little deeper, see a little farther. In this next month I hope to better understand creativity. Feel free to stop by my blog to see what I'm making. Although I don't plan on posting every creation every day, you should be able to see my progression and my exploration of simple acts of creativity.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness; but still will keep a bower quiet for us, and a sleep full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing. --John Keats