Two-Part Creativity

Sternbert and Lubart (1999) defined creativity as the production of responses both novel (original, rare or unexpected) and suitable. Suitability depends on the venue: compelling in the arts, marketable in business, useful in science and technology or adaptive personally or socially.

This two component (production and suitability) definition changes creativity from a trait to a process in which a new idea is transformed into a compelling, marketable, useful or adaptive product. Given the number of steps involved, that nifty idea better fall on fertile ground. The first question might be; is the idea worthy? Analytic skills, the ability to evaluate the novel idea in context, would be required, implying that intelligence is of value in the creative process. Personality might effect the analysis. A self-doubting person might dissuade themselves from pursuing a valid novel idea. At this stage, creativity might be truncated by the mind of the creator.

Once an idea is deemed suitable by the creator, it must be deployed, and deploying an idea isn’t easy. Learning curves proliferate like leaping rabbits. Today, I negotiated the tax office web site to register a business and acquire a tax number, tasks I never considered when I set out to write a novel. Took me four tries to get the phone number entered correctly.

During the deployment phase of creativity, the idea faces resistance (or indifference) from other people. Hordes of people don’t like new ideas or change or the annoying and scary folk that generate new ideas, and that new idea might be full of holes. At some point the creator may wonder, “Why am I bothering?”

The desire to launch a creation out into the world is often ascribed to a psychological driving force, usually courage or madness; although I don’t see why naivety, narcissism, avarice, stubbornness or hyperactivity couldn’t function in a similar fashion.

At any rate, taking creativity public requires serious motivation, possibly sales and marketing skills to boot. After all, others will need to be persuaded the idea has merit. Here’s another spot certain personality types might be favored, high-energy, outgoing self-promoters for instance.

In comparison with “production of novel responses,” the “suitability” component of creativity has a stifling feel and seems laden with pitfalls, gate-keepers and restrictions. In fact, I can’t wait to get past the mechanics phase of book launch and get back to the original, rare and unexpected experience of writing.

Sternberg, R. J., & Lubart, T. I. (1999). The concept of creativity: Prospects and paradigms. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of creativity (pp. 3-15). New York, NY, US: Cambridge University Press.