What does ‘creative’ mean to you?

Languages change: they grow, diversify and adapt. Like people. Gay referred to things bright and pleasant once. Chutney was only a Hindi word once. I remember being told in school that Hindi evolved as the common mans language, and eventually took over from Sanskrit because Sanskrit did not change or evolve. English survives and grows because it continues to absorb words in everyday use, albeit slowly.

Arun Verma of Creativegarh has an interesting blog called Cre8ive Ignition where he, alongwith posting rather nice photographs, also blogs about creativity – the how to and why not of it, how freedom inhibits creativity (and how inspiration is better than random, wayward thinking), targeted creativity and more. One post, titled “Don’t say you’re not creative“, caught my attention.

While I agree that everyone can be creative, I didn’t quite agree with Arun’s examples:

Ajit, a 20 year old Engineering student and my neighbour uses his deodorant as a room fresher whenever his parents have to visit him. And he says he isn’t creative.


Gautam, my investment banker friend says he is in a boring and ‘uncreative’ profession. Everyday he spends all his time thinking and implementing new ideas to invest his client’s money and give him maximum returns. And he says he isn’t creative.

Arun reasoned that “Creativity is about finding solutions. And that is something that we all are capable of.” I wrote that “Someone who invents a paintbrush is creative, the person who paints an original painting is creative, but the one who uses the paintbrush for scratching his back is not.” Arun quoted a ‘Reapplication Theory’ which is about “going beyond labels, conventional uses, removing prejudices, letting go of expectations and assumptions and discovering how something can be reapplied.”

I guess ours is a difference based on perspectives: Arun in looking at it from the utilitarians and theorists point of view, whereas I’m looking at it from the language perspective. I thought I’d look it up.

According to the 1969, and possibly out of date edition of Reader’s Digests ‘Use the right word’:

  • Creative suggests the entire process whereby things that did not exist before are conceived, given form and brought into being.
  • Original is more limited in its scope and more specific, pointing to the creator not as a maker but as source: the new idea, the different approach.
  • Imaginative has to do with the imagination. Great literary works are produced by the creative imagination, but these people are themselves called imaginative, not creative. Creative is used pretentiously to mean novel, new or different. Imaginative is related more to visualisation
  • Inventive is like imaginative, but the inventive person works out how to put things together in a new way so that they will function
  • The resourceful mind solves its problems despite limitations, finding whatever means are available and adapting them to its ends.
  • The ingenious person is both inventive and resourceful, but above all, he is briliantly clever.
  • But that was in 1969, and I’m sure the language has evolved. Possibly, a person scratching his back with a paintbrush is creative in today’s world, where synonyms blend into each other.

    What does creative mean to you? Does it mean all of the above listed synonyms, or only some? Do tell.

    (do you scratch your back with a paintbrush?)


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    1. We are the windows for the messages from the Universe to flow into this reality. We may have different levels of ability and address different audience, but let us connect by thought and increase the vibration of the messages in our writing.

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