The creativity misconception

I’ve always viewed creativity in light of expression. Musical interpretation. Songwriting. Writing a book. Painting. Sculpting. Sketching. Taking pictures. If I wasn’t doing something artistic, I wasn’t being creative.

I now realize that I could not have been more wrong. Yes, artistic expression that creates something that didn’t exist an hour ago is creative…if it’s not just a copy of something else…but creativity also comes in other forms. It solves problems. Creativity can be technical, functional, messy, improvisational, or precise.


Yesterday I built a custom cart that allows me to carry my canoe over long distances by hand using PVC and two lawnmower wheels. I stood in the plumbing section of Home Depot for an hour brainstorming which parts I needed. The day before I fixed my pair of work headphones with the round tip of a zip tie, a business card, and some super glue. Earlier in the week I built a riser from 2x4s over my lunch break to convert my sitting desk to a standing desk. I also wrote some custom PHP code that I’ll be able to use to save me time on many of my WordPress projects going forward.

These are all creative outlets.

In the past I’ve felt guilty for not expressing myself through artistic channels on a regular basis, but now my focus has shifted to solving at least one problem, big or small, daily. I can tell a positive difference in how I approach my work and other projects throughout the day.

By the way, some of this shift in my thinking has recently been influenced by two of Austin Kleon’s books: Steal Like An Artist and Share Your Work. Both are very quick reads packed full of great nuggets that will get you thinking about how and why you create.

So what problem or annoyance can you solve today? Get creative.


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