Brainbidextrous is a site dedicated to explaining how creativity uses both sides of the brain. The left and right sides of the brain are both used in creative work — how much, the degree to which they are used depends on the person. Sometimes we use the term “creative” to describe only the arts (e.g. the creative arts) and people who work in those fields as creative (e.g. a Creative Director). But we need to expand our understanding because any person in any field has the potential to be creative.
The basis for creativity is a “problem” in the very broad sense of the term (perhaps “need” would be a better term). Artists have a problem/need when they want to express something; scientists have a problem/need to figure something out. Either way, an artist or scientist starts with the idea that something needs to change.
I believe that the “something needs to change” is an emotional state. It can be an obvious emotional state, like anger or frustration or fear or confusion, or it could be a more nuanced emotional state that may not even be obvious to the person feeling it. I think this is why we generally consider artists “creative” but not, for instance, mathematicians. The emotional difference isn’t whether one is sensitive or neurotic or dramatic — at the most basic level, the difference determines what a person is interested in — or driven by — on an emotional level. I’ve worked with mathematicians… they can be logical and sensitive and dramatic but they aren’t artists. Instead, their emotions drive them to solve math problems instead of other kinds of problems or meet other kinds of needs. Even if we say that someone is logical, like a mathematician, that doesn’t mean they are void of emotions; there is a basic emotional drive that determines their interest and causes a need to be creative and solve a mathematical problem.
Another way to think about this is to examine how many of us dedicate our lives to something of importance, like volunteering or research. I’ve sometimes wondered “what makes one person want to save animals while another person decides to spend their time doing creativity research?” Both endeavors can be full-time or part-time, and both are important to the world, and while I don’t like how unwanted animals are treated in the United States, I’m not going to go down to the shelter and foster 10 dogs in a small townhome like my friend does. At the most basic level, I’m not emotionally moved to solve that problem and my friend is not emotionally moved to research creativity in the workplace. Totally cool, that’s diversity, and we are both contributing in our own way.
So, even if someone is incredibly logical they still have an emotional basis for the ways in which they are creative.
Don’t forget that after you are emotionally moved in some way, you have to take action. Creativity is either a new idea or new result — so if you don’t take some kind of action, there will be nothing new. But that’s another post…
Image “Jell-o Brains” created by skippy and used under the CC By-SA 2.0 license. No changes were made. The creator may or may not agree with the use of the image.