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When does creativity become a creative act?

In the past week, I've facilitated four philosophical enquiries and had a discussion with artists from Ignite Imaginations about what philosophical enquiry is and how it relates to creative practice. That’s my kind of week!

During that discussion, I found myself saying, ‘Thinking is the fundamental creative act,’ and I’ve musing about that since.

I think I would stand by that assertion, partly because I think we’re all creating unique thoughts all the time and partly because I think thinking underpins everything we do, including creativity. But then I wonder about that experience many speak of, when in the flow of creating we seem to lose ourselves from thought. Is the fundamental creative act beyond thinking?

I also have an idea that the creative act is not complete until it has been shared. That the receiver – the reader, the viewer, the listener, the audience, the player – are co-creators in the creative process. In which case, I guess for a thought to become a complete creative act it needs to be externally expressed, most simply, at least verbalised. Which is more creative, thinking or talking?

This past week all the enquiries were talking ones. I met with four different groups – members of the Sheffield M.E. and Fibromyalgia Group, a multi-cultural women’s group at ZEST community centre, a group of Quakers from around the UK and the Sheffield citizens who came to Sharing the View at the Graves Gallery in Sheffield – and we drew on a stimulus to form questions and talk about ideas.

We talked about identity, friendship, collective experience and personhood. We tried out ideas and tested theories. Agreed and disagreed. Held on to our opinions and changed our minds. Of course, during these sessions there will have been many thoughts that were not verbalised, ideas and responses that remained within the individual’s mind. I wonder to what extent those thoughts helped shape our enquiries as well as the thoughts that were expressed?

I’m sure those thoughts are creative too, but in my own experience thoughts aren’t as well-formed until they are expressed, don’t become shaped into being until they are spoken. Or written, as I am doing now, tentatively trying to shape my ideas and pin them down onto a page.

Next week, among other things, as part of #PhiloFest from Think Together Sheffield I’m offering Philosophy for Creatives, a creative writing workshop and also, with the Writers Workshop, a couple of Creative Critique sessions.

In Philosophy for Creatives, we’ll be using philosophical enquiry methods as a way into creative writing. Talking and writing to explore themes and produce creative writing. This can be fruitful for those new to creative writing as well as offering a new way in for the more experienced writer. Give yourself a treat for World Philosophy Day on Thursday 18th November and join us!

My Creative Critique sessions (evening of 17th November and morning of 19th November) are also for writers and are a way of understanding more of what’s happening when your work lands with the reader. I’ve often found critique sessions frustrating because they can get bogged down in word choices or style preference. And if the reader has a different preference this isn’t necessarily relevant to what I’m trying to do in my writing.

In Creative Critique, I use an enquiry process to engage the reader in saying they get from the writing – themes and big ideas – which give the writer a deeper understanding of whether they’re achieving what they meant to. Critique as a creative practice – engaging the writer and the reader in a co-creative process together.

If you like writing, thinking and talking, these workshops are for you. Do join us, all are welcome. All sessions are online.

Booking for Philosophy for Creatives Thursday evening:

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