BirdcageWe all know creativity when we see it, yet it has proved an elusive concept to study.  Creativity is difficult to define and nightmarish to measure.  It overlaps with subjects such as originality, imagination, and lets face it, strangeness of thought.  I have been interested in the science behind creativity since I took my first psychology course.  But it was never merely an abstract topic of study for me.  Growing up I was surrounded by creative people—poets, scholars, graphic artists, story tellers, and songsmiths.  All these people seemed to be constantly and generously filling the world with unique experiences for others to share.  Through the combination of my experiences and my study of the theories that deal with it, I began to form a system of thought that models creativity.

I’ve had many conversations about creativity with a person who, for me, embodies it.  I spent over ten years having weekly meetings with James Li in the East Village where we wandered rather aimlessly and pondered all things kick-ass and artistic.  These talks ultimately culminated in what I glibly call the Miello-Li Model of creativity, which I will describe through this blog.

So what is creativity? In a nutshell it’s the identification of a problem (a void in reality) and carrying out a multi-stage process that results in the creation of a piece of work (which solves the problem and fills the void).  That progression involves the combination of previously unconnected ideas in the imagination and the construction of the resulting design in reality using a skill or craft.  The end result is a piece of work that has a sense of completeness about it and which allows one to experience something that was previously only present in the mind of the creator.  In this blog I will unpack that definition as well as share my own insight on how creativity can be improved.

Next: What is not creativity

by M.J.Miello

photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc


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