What is a "Creative?"

And what is a "creative" career? 

Most people would say jobs producing art, music or dance are “creative.”  Those of us who make sculpture or jewelry, write novels, design clothing, write advertising or illustrate books may also be labeled “creative” or a “creative type.” 

I have long wrestled with the essential meaning of labeling anyone “a creative.”   It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  As humans we are all creative.  What mom isn’t creative juggling schedules between three kids’ activities?  What home builder isn’t creative we he is working with limited resources, space or time?  What salesperson isn’t creative who knows what tools to use or resources to pull together to close a deal?  What software developer isn’t creative when writing software to solve a technical problem?

T.S. Elliot said, “When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its outmost – and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.”  This is the kind of creativity that abounds in daily life.  Don’t complain.  Change.  Those who think on their feet are incredibly creative.  This covers just about every job under the sun.

I have loved both my right brain and left brain jobs.  I consider both types creative.   I have equally relished the experiences of running a business, selling software and drawing cartoons. 

Being creative is also what Mihály Csíkszentmihályi would call “flow.”  Any activity in which you lose yourself.  Csíkszentmihályi would say that any activity where you have clear goals, is challenging (but not too hard), lose track of time; and while doing it, you find joy.  

With creativity, we can take a fresh look at old work with new ideas in mind, or revisit at entering a field we have long feared to try out.   A creative career is one you truly choose for yourself.  One in which you you can flow.



I love your clarity around loving both sides of what your brain can do - I feel the same, but have never been able to quite articulate it. So, thanks Jennifer!

Jennifer R Peterson

Your comment is greatly appreciated.

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