Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Creativity and Evaluation

I cannot think of anything I’ve done which was perfect, much less perfect the first time I tried.  Every sewing project, every meal, every canter or extended trot on horseback…all were imperfect.  I know this to be true because I love to mentally disassemble my work and find the areas which could be improved.  This careful dissecting is not at all a sign of self criticism but signals to me that my creativity is flowing. 

Others may know creativity differently, but this is my experience with my analytical mind.  My brain has a strong linear tendency with lots of divergent paths within.  These two ways of thinking are separate avenues to the same reality for me.    

The process of evaluation happens unconsciously now in the examples I have given above (well no, as I am a complete beginner in some areas of sewing) and I am able to adjust and modify at times right at the moment of creation.  To be able to hold onto a vision while doing some work, evaluate while sewing, drawing, riding a figure…and then adjust the act to stay true to a vision…this process gives me so much pleasure.  

To improve one’s work, it is essential to have a mindset that is

CRITICAL-about the work; about the opportunity to improve;  about the effort expended and the result gained.  For me, critical means clear and it is not connected to self esteem in any way. 

POSITIVE-about my vision and my ability to achieve that

OPEN-willingness to learn and change and grow.

 note: I have no idea why the poster shows a stone wheel with a quote for Charles Mingus.  Just another example of creativity!  For those interested, you can learn more about this American jazz musician at the official site


  1. Mary... Your thoughts are very thought-provoking...makes me think of the book "The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life" by Tal Ben-Shahar. (He's a psych prof in the field of positive psych). He differentiates btwn "perfectionists" and "optimalists". Perfectionists reject and feel terrible about failure. They limit themselves with worry of failure, producing anxiety and procrastination. The optimalist, in contrast, accepts failure as an IMPORTANT part of the process. She lives the full scope of the human experience. Though the optimalist may fail, (will indeed fail, I add) she accepts that failure is part of the reality of creativity and moves forward.

  2. Mary, you just described exactly how I feel about my sewing projects these days. Years ago, in my youth, fear of judgement kept me paralyzed or defensive. When I was finally able to let go of that fear I gained something much more valuable, perspective and acceptance. I just sewed a cuff onto a jacket three times and could only laugh at how many incorrect variations I could come up with;-)

  3. Mary -- I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed this post. I'm always a bit disappointed in the imperfection of my finished pieces (or meals, or projects ...) but this is a wonderful lens at which to look at imperfection and how evaluation is integral to creativity. :)


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