What is creativity, and how does one’s creative process works? That is what I asked Beth K., a long-time online friend from the Harry Potter fandom, who also read and write fanfics. She is someone who I admire, and someone whose creative process just fascinated me, so I really looked forward to interviewing her.
Beth eloquently defined “creativity” as where it is a combination of discipline, courage, and desire channelled towards bringing something new into the world. This definition is further explained that discipline is required to allow one to focus and create despite setbacks; courage is needed to allow creators to push on while being vulnerable to negative feedback; and desire is needed because creative individuals want to create new things — after all, being forced to do something against one’s will can be quite counter-productive. The three elements — discipline, courage, and desire — combined will allow creative juice to flow. For some, creativity can be used to create beautiful things in the world (ie: the arts), but creativity can also bring danger to our world (ie: weapons).
As a child coming from a family that encouraged creativity, Beth was involved with writing (her school encouraged their students to “write to read” as opposed to “write to learn”.), ballet, tap dance, jazz dance, violin, piano, and choir. As an adult, she participates in writing poetry and fanfictions, and she sings in a high-level volunteer chorus. She also finger-paints, but those paintings are done for her own privacy, and she rarely shares them with others.
With all these activities, she considers herself to be a creative individual, but her creative process involves synthesis rather than creating completely from scratch. She says that she sees “new” creations from the way different elements (visual, aural, or verbal) come together into infinite combinations. For an example, when she writes fanfic, she thinks about who her characters are and where they are going. Combined with the plot and other story writing elements, she researches for her story, which excites her, and she puts it all together. She wants her works to make sense in a complete way. When she wrote a fanfic featuring a four-year-old once, I mentioned to her that the child’s language seemed a bit too advanced for their age, and she took my observation to heart, and we discussed ways to fix the child’s speech to sound more realistic and age-appropriate.
I asked Beth about the NEW formula to measure and define creativity, and she and I both agreed that the NEW concept kind of went against the “joy” part of creativity. While I agree that works and concepts that are novel, effective, and whole showcase the definition of creativity, but when applied to online fanworks, those would not fit the “new” part of the definition. Fanworks are not considered “new” at all, since they are all based off of existing works. Beth even mentioned about how West Side Story being a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but just set in a different social setting and time period. There are many works out there that are retelling or re-imaging of something that have already been done. Fanworks are just that, but they are created by fans for the enjoyment factor. We fans want to re-interpret works in a way that captures our perceptions. Are we creating something new? In essence, no, but we are still creating works that are “new” to other fans. Not all fanworks are of high quality, but there are gems online that invoke emotions in us as we absorb them, works that just breathe a new fresh of life.
And to me, that is the root of creativity. Some things we create may not impact the whole world as major works have done, but as long as we create something that still makes a difference to someone, then that is what matters. Creativity comes in all shapes and forms, all different sizes. Beth’s creative process takes on a rebuilding route; others take on the ex nihilo route. Whatever the case might be, creativity is something everyone can partake in, and it is a process that can be a very personal adventure. An adventure I encourage the kids I work with, and an adventure I go on myself. In fact, my job alone allows me to experience and see creativity on a daily basis due to my interactions with the kids. Being around them, I get to see things through their own perspective, and I can then bring that into my own creative mindset. So not only do I get inspirations from the kids at work, but I also get inspirations through my media consumption. Whether it’s a book, film, or video game, I always discover something new that makes my head spin, and it draws out my scientific and philosophical side.
Therefore my plan to become more creative is to always expand my knowledge-base through media consumption, real-life experiences, and learning. Life itself is a gigantic learning experience, and it is up to me to take that opportunity to do what I can. I’ll try to travel more in the future, including finally visiting United Kingdoms and Europe. I’ll keep on playing my video games and reading and watching new books and films. I’ll try to learn a new skill like computer-building. Whatever I do will benefit me to become a better person and to become a better writer. After all, I’ll continue to write what I know.