Definitions of creativity

in Musings

(This post is a bit introspective / navel-gazing, so be warned…)

Whenever I think about creativity I think about artists, sculptors, novelists, poets. For me the creative process is a mystery and I’m in awe of people who have a creative instinct. So when someone referred to me as creative, I was baffled. And when someone asked why I never used the word creative when writing about my own skills, my instinctive answer was that it’s because I’m not creative. Way back when I was employed as a copywriter rather than forging my own way as Pippin my job title was Creative Copywriter. I was so uncomfortable with the concept that I lobbied (successfully) to have it changed to Web Copywriter.

But I’m starting to think I may be wrong, that I may be creative after all. And there are two particular things that make me think that.

My strength is undoubtedly in ‘de-jargoning’ things. I specialise in making things sound normal, human and easy to understand. But there’s no right way to do this. What you need to say and how you need to say it will differ depending on who you’re writing for (both in terms of the client in question and the audience who will be reading it) and where you’re writing for (print or web, say). And that’s where what I would call experience and instinct but you could also call creativity comes in.

I often see pieces of writing where something isn’t quite right. Whether it’s that the tone is slightly wrong, the rhythm of the sentences doesn’t work or where you simply can’t make head nor tail of what the writer is actually trying to say, it all makes me very uncomfortable. Whenever I come across something like this, I itch to grapple with it and rework it so it’s getting its message across in the best way it can. I’m desperate to call up the writer and say: “Let me help!” I’d say this itch was a desire to tidy the message up and give it clarity and strength. (As anyone who knows me will tell you, being tidy is very important to me…) But maybe you could call the desire to strive for something better, to let the words really shine and express their message clearly something else. Maybe you could call it creativity.

So in answer to the people who query why I don’t use the word creative I say: “Leave it with me. I’m working on it.”

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