During conversation with a friend, it became apparent that we were misaligned in our understanding of where creativity flows from.

I presupposed that creativity is a skill to be trained. My friend pointed out that creativity could be viewed as an instinct, a natural force to be directed. The distinction sounds small, but has profound implications.

Viewing creativity as a skill, there is essentially no assumed base proficiency – no internal baseline that all humans have within them. Training creativity in itself would yield marvellous world-changing ability. Some people would be driven to pursue creativity, and others would not.

Thinking of creativity as an instinct really brought on a paradigm shift for me. If creativity is an instinct, then all humans are driven by a desire to create. I’ll let that stand as a block quote because it’s fantastic.

All humans are driven by a desire to create.

Creativity is not something to be trained in itself, rather, it is something people find an outlet for, a way to channel. Practicing the techniques you choose as an outlet for your creativity becomes the way you strengthen your creative expression in the world.

The mode of creation can vary wildly between individuals. Some folks want to create change, others want to create good concrete mixtures, some want to create the best music scores, and others want to create perfect soundproofing. We’re all architects and builders though, regardless of what it is we’re building.

Some consider creativity to derive from both instinct and skill, or take influence from even more parameters. Notably, Francis Bacon is attributed with the following:

The creative process is a cocktail of instinct, skill, culture and a highly creative feverishness. It is not like a drug; it is a particular state when everything happens very quickly, a mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness, of fear and pleasure; it’s a little like making love, the physical act of love.

But then, philosophers are generally odd types.

There is something inspiringly beautiful about thinking of creativity as this tempestuous force from within, just fighting to find an exit, a way to express itself upon the world. It’s a strong mental image to keep.