It doesn’t matter what your “artistic bent” is but creativity is good for physical and mental health. There is, of course, the joy of creating something that has not existed before (whether it is a story, a new garden plot, a piece of music, a cake or a painting or what have you), and there is the enjoyment of getting to that finishing point.
Better still is the joy of going on to create another piece of work and going through the whole process again. Then comes the satisfaction of watching your work improve as you gain more experience.
Yes, you can get bogged down and feel overwhelmed by it all. Writers the world over can tell stories about how many rejections they’ve had and, unlike the fishermen with their tales of the one that got away, the authors will not be exaggerating! They really can paper the walls of their house with the rejection slips they’ve received. (Whether that is the best thing to do with them is another matter, however).
While it is true other animals can create, there is usually a biological reason for this. The bower birds that build impressive nests are trying to find a mate in doing this, they’re not trying to be artistically brilliant in itself! The artistic brilliance is a means to an end.
So humans then create all manner of things for all kinds of reasons and this is one reason why we are at the top of the creativity and intelligence “chain” (whether we deserve to be is, again, another matter!).
Creativity is good for the country (most countries come to that) but, based on the UK alone, how many people go to see great art in the Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery etc? Or go to see a concert or rock gig, wanting to hear their favourite music? Beethoven and Mozart still do very well in the album charts! There is a lot of money in the creative industries (though I can think of many who would say it doesn’t always end up where it should do).
Van Gogh’s amazing use of colour is far more appreciated these days than it ever was in his life time. (This is something Doctor Who touches on in the Matt Smith episode called Vincent. This, to my mind, is one of the best Who episodes ever and is a very moving story).
Being creative in any form can take you out of yourself and help you focus on something positive, which is never a bad thing. Art has been used to help people who have suffered from/are suffering trauma. Music, especially classical, is known to have a soothing and calming effect. (This can be ironic. The story of, say, Carmen is anything but soothing and calming yet the music for it can be!).
Creativity is known to reduce stress, encourages use of more parts of the brain, can improve mood and, given it can open doors to new hobbies, can also improve your social life. Those with a real interest in paintings will go to art galleries at some point. Those who love stories will go to story readings, the library and so on.
Getting out and about is good for you and being creative can encourage you to do exactly that. Producing a piece of work can do wonders for your self-esteem too. (If you’re really fortunate, you could end up making a living from it!).
Creativity can show up in having a passion for non-fiction. Indeed, the best non-fiction books use some of the techniques of fiction to weave a story on which to base the facts being shown. The point of this? The facts come across that much clearer and are easier to remember! Show don’t tell isn’t just for stories!
Science would be much poorer without the imagination as the power to wonder fuels it. No creativity = no imagination to come up with ideas that lead to progress. Creativity can show up in wanting to find out what will happen if you do this or if you do that.
One of my favourite moments in Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam is when Dick Simnel (Discworld’s equivalent to Robert Stephenson) calmly tells the Patrician he deliberately blew up 3 or 4 engines to see what happened and to work out from that how to prevent things going wrong once his “permanent way” system (our railway) was in operation in Ankh-Morpork.
And talking of Robert Stephenson, inventor of the marvellous Rocket (there is a reproduction of this at the National Railway Museum in York), had that wanting to find out what happened trait in abundance, as did Isambard Kingdom Brunel. What was it about Queen Victoria’s reign that led to so many wonderful inventors? (I guess needs must where the devil drives is the answer to that one…)
Creativity can last centuries. We still appreciate Dickens, Shakespeare, Austen and Chaucer. We are still using Brunel’s suspension bridges, his railway stations etc.
We owe a huge debt to Sir Joseph Bazelgette for giving us the sewer system (though there is a case for arguing he was taking us back to something the Romans left us with. If you go to the Roman Baths in Bath, you will see the Romans created their own channels to ferry the hot water to where they wanted it to go. It is a relatively short step from having channels for water to having channels to carrying waste away. How many lives has Bazelgette saved in his own time and beyond because we’re not prone to bouts of waterborne diseases now?).
So whether your own form of creativity is composing an irate letter to someone worthy of it (the fun here is in picking the exact turn of phrase to use!) to baking the most elaborate cake to creating a beautiful garden, have fun and relish the process. You will get far more out of being creative than you could imagine.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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