Creative expression is a tool that people use to understand themselves better, connect with fellow humans, and grow spiritually. Unfortunately, many people don’t see themselves as creative types. They figure the only way to be creative is to draw, paint, sing, act, or play an instrument. And if they can’t do any of these things, they assume they aren’t creative.
Is that true? Are there really people who don’t get to enjoy the blessings of creative expression and connection? No. That’s only true if you believe in a very restricted, often privileged definition of creativity. The truth is that there are many types of creativity, and everyone is creative in some way.
Keep reading to explore some of the many types of creativity and discover how your imagination and originality comes alive.
Unfortunately, an artist’s or inventor’s “final product” is often used as a litmus test for creativity. If that product is beautiful or compelling somehow, the person who made it must be creative. If not, they aren’t. In truth, so much about creativity is in the process. When thinking about the different types of creativity, it’s remiss to exclude the method used to create or invent that final product.
Many people naturally engage in convergent thinking. Most of them do so because they’ve been conditioned to adhere to this conventional way of thinking, while others naturally have this kind of thought process. However, some people can engage in a more creative thinking pattern called divergent thinking.
What’s the difference between convergent and divergent thinking? With convergent thinking, one gathers information and uses each piece of data to reach a single and (hopefully) correct conclusion. Get a group of people together in a room, and ask each of them to solve the same problem. Chances are, many of them will come up with the same answer. And if they show their work, you’ll see they used the same thought patterns.
On the other hand, there may be one or two people in a group who will not follow that pattern. They may come up with an entirely different answer, identify a new set of challenges, or devise multiple solutions.
You simply can’t talk about the types of creativity without acknowledging divergent thinkers. They possess an ability to see connections that other people can’t, leading them to creative ideas and solutions.
It’s not possible to discuss different types of creativity without mentioning multiple intelligences. What we’ve learned is that intelligence is something you can measure in several ways. The concept of multiple intelligences recognizes the different areas where individuals can show mental talents and gifts. Here are the eight types of intelligence as identified by Howard Gardner:
As you read this list, you can probably identify what areas you’re gifted in and what areas you’re not. It’s very common to excel in certain areas and struggle in others. In fact, most highly intelligent people do.
How does this relate to creativity? There are a couple of ways. The first is that every type of intelligence on this list can express different types of creativity. Additionally, people are often more comfortable combining creativity with their strongest types of intelligence. Perhaps it’s because they feel more confident about the final product.
Here’s another way to consider the varying types of creativity. In 2004, Arne Dietrich suggested that there were four different creative insights. The idea is that creativity is either emotional or cognitive and either deliberate or spontaneous. That leads to the following four possibilities:
Cognitive creativity starts with a body of knowledge. That may be knowledge gained from experience, academic study, observations, or other means of learning. Deliberate creativity means that you are going through a deliberate process to solve a defined problem or develop innovation to improve something.
People who are often considered to be technical or workplace innovators often use deliberate cognitive creativity. They take intentional steps and use their knowledge to formulate great ideas, create products, or resolve issues.
Have you ever struggled with a project, put it aside for a few days, then suddenly came up with the solution? That’s an example of spontaneous cognitive creativity. It still involves a body of knowledge, but instead of actively working on it, the solution comes spontaneously. It’s almost as if your subconscious mind continued working on it while you did other things.
This type of creativity happens from revealing one’s feelings. However, unlike SCC, it is done with deliberate intent. That conscious purpose might be an exploration of self in therapy or a yoga session. With DEC, your goal is to gain a deeper connection with your own emotions. You may also use this approach to produce some tangible product or even an idea to help express yourself.
SEC is the most unique of all types of creativity. Some people refer to SEC as an epiphany. An example of this might be waking up from a dream with an idea for a short story or seeing a picture that triggers sudden emotional realization. It’s similar to SCC, but it has a different result.
People who can express themselves creatively are truly blessed. They have an outlet and channel for their innermost thoughts and feelings. They also have a means of connecting with others and feeling good about themselves. A rigid definition of creativity leads many people to believe that they aren’t creative and probably never will be.
However, when you think about the different types of creativity and how multiple intelligences are connected with them, that perception changes. You realize that not only do you have the capability to be creative, you probably already are.
The best place to start is with the fundamental realization that you are already a creative being, even if you don’t produce music, artwork, or stories. You can also:
Most importantly, remember that creativity is a process. Try not to worry about the outcome or the final product, whatever that may be. Stay true to yourself and your unique creative process.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Harris has been a full-time freelance writer since 2008 and she’s covered just about every topic under the sun. She lives in Southern California with her husband and their two children. When she’s not typing away on her keyboard, you can find her cooking a spicy dish in her kitchen or working out in her garage gym.