Defining Creativity


So... what exactly is creativity?

The general consensus is that creativity is the creation of something truly original. Now this can leave a lot of room for interpretation, so let’s look at it a little deeper. Many people have shared their opinions on what creativity is, and Dr. Leslie Wilson (2007) has complied several on her Web site.

  • “You cannot use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.” -Maya Angelou.
  • Creativity is marked by the ability or power to create–to bring into existence, to invest with a new form, to produce through imaginative skill, to make or bring into existence something new. -Webster’s Dictionary.
  • “The emergence of a novel, relational product, growing out of the uniqueness of the individual.” -Carl Rodgers (psychologist an writer).
  • “The occurrence of a composition which is both new and valuable.” -Henry Miller (writer).
  • “The ability to make new combinations of social worth.” -John Haefele (CEO and entrepreneur).
  • “A special class of problem solving characterized by novelty.” -Newell, Simon, & Shaw (team of logic theorists).
  • “Any thinking process in which original patterns are formed and expressed.” -H. H. Fox (scientist).
    “Fluency, flexibility, originality, and sometimes elaboration.” -E. Paul Torrance
  • (educator, academic, creativity investigator).
    “Creativity is the process of bringing something new into being.” -Rollo May (writer,
  • philosopher).
    “A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something.” -Frank Capra (film director) “Creative thinking involves imagining familiar things in a new light, digging below
  • the surface to find previously undetected patterns, and finding connections among unrelated phenomena.” -Roger von Oech.
  • “... the ability to use different modes of thought to generate new and dynamic ideas and solutions.” -Carnevale, Gainer, Meltzer.

The National Curriculum in Action Web site (2007), which outlines The National Education Curriculum for England, defines creativity as a set of four “characteristics of creativity.”

  1. Imagination. The creative process should always involve thinking or behaving imaginatively
  2. The imaginative activity must be applied to a purpose, or to achieving an objective
  3. The creative and imaginative process must generate something original
  4. The creative outcome must be of value in relation to the objective or goal

As mentioned before, most of these definitions share the view that, "something new, innovative, original, unique, and novel is created."

I like the definition, "Creativity is the creation of something truly original and valuable."

With that said, let's continue diving into creativity and look at the origins of creativity in the tabs above.