I’ve always been high on creativity. My whole life has focused on the well-designed, the interesting, the entertaining, the cleverly crafted. I read a lot of books by others in the creativity field, from small nuggets of marketing insights to essays to way-too-many-page tomes on the subject. I enjoy watching TED talks to see how people in other fields explain their break-throughs. That’s what I get excited about.
So I was really bummed when I read it was all bogus.
In his salon.com article, Thomas Frank explains that while the country has stumbled along lately, there has been a boom in the Marketing of Creativity. More books, more speakers, more talks, but not much actual creativity happening. His theory is that while creativity may be the story we want to hear, the reality of creativity is very different. If you look at those people that focus on creativity in our society, they are, as a group, losing ground rather than gaining, and the industries that made their lives possible (newspapers, magazines, universities, etc.) are in obvious decline.
Books about creativity aren’t actually creative at all, mostly retelling the same examples of “ah-ha” moments by now-famous people and companies. Yet Frank believes that we buy into it all the same, as part of the “daisy-chain” of the system, only reading and listening to what we want to hear, written and spoken by the people we want to be, believing that creativity is something special that belongs just to “us.”
Now that’s depressing. But it’s also way too cynical.
Because while I know that it is easy for people to become so insulated that they only hear those that agree with them, I also believe that it is in human nature to dream, to look for the alternative, to strive for something better – especially when times are tough. After you have been knocked down time after time again, you need inspiration, a reason to get back up. When you aren’t sure where to turn, you need a vision, a goal where you can focus your efforts. That is the draw of creativity, for people of all ages and means.
Creativity isn’t something that belongs to one group or another. It’s universal, not proprietary.
It’s open to whoever wants to use it.