Productivity -v- Creativity

I was reading another blog last night and the writer’s comments have stuck in my head since. In it she ponders whether or not it is possible to be both productive and creative at the same time, and that it is essential to all of us to shut down the production line and to be creative. What I want to find out here is can you actually be creative without being productive?

Creativity is essential in everything I do. I don’t think I could live as happily as I do without being creative. That being said creativity doesn’t eschew itself from me as visibly as it may from others. But still, I live to be creative. Enough of my self congratulation. What has all this to do with anything? Well, it is to give you an idea of my take on this subject. I’m creative enough to have my own opinion about what creativity is.

Before I go off any further, let me establish the perspective I’m approaching this subject from in case any lines are crossed. For me productivity, or being productive means producing or making (not creating) something. It’s a very business minded word in fact. When I googled it I came up with all sorts of help sites offering tips on how to increase an employees ability to do as much work as possible – productivity in this sense is closely linked to the production line and the efficiency of it.

Creativity or being creative, on the other hand, means both having the ingenuity and imagination to manufacture something original, but it is also a quality. It is the quality of being creative, depending on the level of creativity, which means to be able to create over and over again. Perhaps you can already see where I am coming from?

While thinking creatively is essential, it’s equally important to function and produce creative pieces. There’s not much point in allowing all these wonderful creative ideas build up – they have to be created.

Yes, there is a difference to being productive and creative, but what is important for anyone who is creative is to be productive in their creativity. There are plenty of ways to enhance the breath of creativity – long walks in the mountains, meditation, arguments, long hours of unrestrained drinking, and of course just creating more. But you have to produce something. In many cases it would have to function almost like a production line – especially if you are creative for a living.

Here is one of the true joys of being creative; being able to create over and over again like a production line is the most addictive part of creativity. Seeing your ideas form in front of you as something physical, rather than just an idea in your head or jotted down on a piece of paper. For me the greatest frustration of being creative is having idea after idea but not having the time or resources to see ideas beyond the blueprint scribbled on a small piece of paper.

Without productivity I can’t see creativity having the same allure. It is completely alien to the creativity I associate with, and that is of course productive creativity. For me creation needs to be practised to prosper, otherwise it’s just musing, which doesn’t get you anywhere on a best-sellers list.

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2 thoughts on “Productivity -v- Creativity

  1. I’m not sure I’d equate an assembly line with creativity though. 🙂 I see assembly lines as the opposite of creativity…they create the same thing over and over and over…mass produced…no individuality. While creative pieces are by nature individual. Yes, one piece can be reproduced but we can’t thrive creatively by reproducing the same piece over and over or repeating a formula exactly. Each new piece is its own thing entirely. It’s more akin to having baby after baby, I think (in a good way 😉 ). We gestate each idea and the story begins to form. We keep shaping and eventually, the finished piece is born.

    For example, I love 50-word stories. It’s such a challenge to convey a story in exactly 50-words. Each word has to be chosen with care. Each story I write is different from all of the others (even if they’re in mostly the same genre). I could, conceivably (no pun intended), pop ’em out regularly, but they could never be assembly line stuff because each piece must be created new.

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    • I’d agree with you Sonia. The assembly line reference was an attempt to tie it in with the post that gave the idea in the first place – maybe I should call it a creatembly line…

      The more I think of it now the more I realise how bad a choice ‘assembly line’ was. Not such a good advertisement for my creativity now, was it?

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