There is a huge misconception about creativity, and it prevents us from benefitting from the many latent potentials in men. Some people think that creativity belongs to only a certain class of gifted people like musicians, actors, filmmakers, painters, writers and what have you.

But creativity is in everybody, irrespective of their jobs, career paths or discipline. The only difference is that creativity is at various levels, and it depends on how much one develops and draws from one’s creative potential.

Whether you’re a nurse, a doctor, a teacher, an engineer, a police officer, a pastor or a mechanic, you can be more creative than you currently are.

So, I am tempted to suggest that we all should rethink when referring to the creative industry. It might be more appropriate to describe it as the entertainment industry because you can also have some people in the creative industry who are not as creative as they should be.

And by calling just that sector the creative industry, we often make people from other sectors think that creativity can only be found in those in the creative industry. We inadvertently prevent some people from other sectors from developing their creativity or imagination.

What it Means to Be Creative

What it means to be creative

Do you want to understand the word creative? The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary describes a creative person as someone “having the skill or imagination to produce something new, especially a work of art.”

The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary describes creativity as “producing or using original and unusual ideas.” While the Oxford dictionary adds “, especially a work of art” you can see from the Cambridge dictionary that once you can produce or use “original and unusual ideas” you can be described as creative.

So, a doctor can be creative, an engineer can be creative and a pastor can be creative. When you look around our society today, you can see many instances of creativity among people that are not in the so-called creative industry. You have some pastors that preach for two hours and yet it feels like they have been on the pulpit for just ten minutes.

You also have some pastors that preach for two hours and yet it feels like they have been on the pulpit for twenty hours. You have writers whose works are engaging, and you have writers whose works are boring. That’s the function of creativity and it cuts across every discipline or profession.  No matter which sector you belong to, there is some creativity lying inside of you waiting to be activated or enhanced.

Before I share my personal experiences with you about the way I improved my creativity, I would like to take you back to the 1960s when Roger W. Sperry, conducted his research (now considered dated) and came up with the left vs right-brained theory.

It was based on the scientific fact that the human brain is divided into two hemispheres – the left and the right hemispheres. Sperry’s left-brained vs right-brained theory claimed that one hemisphere of the human brain dominates the other in some people and that is the reason you have some people that are more analytical and methodical while some are more creative and imaginative.

Scientific study shows that there are 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections in the human brain that work together in a complex, coordinated communication system. However, each of the hemispheres of the human brain has specific functions different from the other. And that is what Sperry based his theory on. Hence, you’re either left-brained or right-brained.

Sperry’s research claimed that “the left brain helps you with:

  • logic
  • Sequencing
  • Linear thinking
  • Mathematics
  • Facts and
  • Thinking in words.

While the right brain helps you with:

  • Imagination
  • Holistic thinking
  • Intuition
  • Arts
  • Rhythm
  • Nonverbal cues
  • Feelings/visualisation”

I remember one of my scriptwriting mentors, Karl Iglesias. He describes himself as “a more of the left-brained person” and I wondered what the heck that meant until he explained how he was more methodical in his writing.

However, a team of neuroscientists in a 2013 research review invalidated Sperry’s theory. According to Ann Pietrangelo’s article, Left Brain vs Right Brain: What Does This Mean for Me?, medically reviewed by Nancy Hammond, M.D, the neuroscientists found out from a magnetic resonance imaging of 1,000 people that “the human brain doesn’t favour one side over the other.

The networks on one side aren’t generally stronger than the networks on the other side…whether you perform a logical or creative function, you receive input from both sides of your brain.”

In secondary school, many of us held the lazy notion that we were not good at some subjects. Some of my classmates, including me, didn’t like mathematics while others didn’t like the English language and we performed poorly in those subjects, accordingly.

However, we still had a few students that were good at both the English language, Mathematics and all the other subjects, but we excused ourselves that such individuals were just so gifted – they were more brilliant than we were. None of us paid attention to the fact that those students who were more ‘brilliant’ than we were studied more, and even pay more attention while teachers handling such subjects were in the classroom.

Earlier in secondary school, while I liked the English language – I wanted to be good at it only because I wanted to be a good rapper. I hated Literature, because it subjected me to reading prose and poetry books and at that time I hadn’t developed a good reading culture, so those regions of my brain were not developed.

When I was forced to read and I didn’t understand much from what I was reading, I thought that my brain was not good enough for such – I would rather stay away from them.

However, when I realized that without the Literature I could hardly get admission into any of the higher institutions to study Mass Communication, I decided that I had to pass that subject.

As I studied more, I understood more and I fell more in love with the subject. The same applied to all the other subjects that I needed to pass – Government, History, Biology and the English language.

I was not exposed to reading books earlier while growing up. In my neighbourhood, then, all we did was play hard after school till it was time to go to sleep.

Later on, it was a daily fight with my father when he bought some textbooks for me and was forcing me to read certain passages daily. I only started developing my reading habit at SS3, at the age of 19, while preparing for Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE).

Immediately after SSCE, I bought a polytechnic JAMB form, looked into the brochure, and bought all the required textbooks for the examination. Already my performance at the SSCE had boosted my confidence a bit, so studying for the JAMB was more fun.

I enjoyed reading each of those textbooks and I read them many times over 6 months before the examination. On the examination day, while many students looked panicky, I stepped into the examination hall with an unbreakable confidence. I knew I would pass, and I did.

Creativity can be Inspired by Interest

Creativity is inspired by interest

Have you ever asked yourself why you find the things you don’t like difficult to understand, but find the things that you like easy to understand, and even enjoyable?

As a TV producer with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Abuja, the first time a senior colleague attempted to teach me video editing, he only terrified me.

He was just clicking the computer mouse so quickly and everything in the video editing software – Adobe Premiere 1.5, looked like magic or witchcraft. I told him that there was no way I could understand that kind of thing. I said I could do every other thing he was doing as a TV producer, but that video editing thing was not my kind of stuff.

However, 3 months into my work in NTA, having been severally frustrated by the video editors who would not help me edit a report, I decided I had to learn that video editing.

Two years down the line, I was a better video editor than that senior colleague of mine. Five years after that, I became a better video editor than the guy whom I paid ₦40,000 to teach me video editing. I even learned and began using new video editing/colour grading software – Davinci Resolve that my former teacher find difficult to understand to date.

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