Depth of Understanding + Breadth of Exploration + Striving = Potential Creativity
I came up with this formula as a way of capturing the essence of creativity, but upon reflection it can be misleading because it is not meant to be applied in simplistic ways. The formula above says something about what is necessary for creative activity, but it is not be sufficient.
For instance, say you wanted to create a new chair. You would need to know about other kinds of chairs and materials, how they work, and how they’re built. In other words, you need a depth of understanding because without it, there is nothing to create from.
But in order to create something original, you will also need to bring in other fields and disciplines because often ideas from the “outside” is what generates a new way of looking at the problem. Consequently, you need to understand broadly.
True creative efforts though will suffer many frustrating setbacks due to your lack of understanding. It is original work afterall! Thus the energy source required to push through this barrier is striving. Without it, the creative effort will never see its fruits.
Sadly, despite all that work, the outcome is only potentially creative because I have neglected other forces that may strike down the creative effort. What if this new chair is not tolerated by society? What if the competition steals the idea? What if the political environment changes?
Still… it doesn’t hurt to play around with a formula, does it?