Imagination, the forgotten tool for creativity

Creating, Tech & Design

I can’t stop hearing and reading about creativity: the creative entrepreneur, the creative business, how to be more creative, businesses nowadays need more creative people, etc. But I don’t hear that often about imagination and imaginative people. Why? What’s the difference? Why is not such a marketable concept as creativity? Is there really a boom in creativity? Why is that term so important nowadays?

Well, while imagination is not a very common word being used in business, words like “innovation” are the new fancy thing. Holding hands with innovation comes creativity, an admired skill as well. Every single business is looking for creative employees and every person is looking for ways to get a creative life.

But nobody says much about imagination. Although, it is a basic tool for creativity and innovation. Without imagination, you could not picture how something could work, or go wrong, what would be a new perspective or come up with a number of solutions. Then why isn’t it a skill we want to pursue?

In we find this definition about the difference between those two terms:

“The biggest difference between creativity and imagination is that imaginations is thinking of something that is not present, while creativity is doing something meaningful with your imaginations.”

I like it. It says it clearly. Still, we can add some specifications:
Sir Robinson says that creativity is a very practical process while imagination allows us to think of things that aren’t real or around us at any given time.

So, how could we create something new? Nothing can’t be real without getting first into our minds through the imaginative process. Only using it first it is possible to be really creative. So, why aren’t there more articles about “ 5 ways to boost your imagination” or “The only thing you need to know about being imaginative and find success” etc?
My guess? It may be because to have an imaginative mind comes with some negative thoughts. Imagination sounds childish, like something you say about a child who is too often with his head on the clouds.

And we don’t want to be seen as daydreamers.

We think that imaginative people are like the guy on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. However, I would encourage everybody to embrace that skill. Because, how are you supposed to create something really new, be really creative if not playing it in your mind first?
This makes me think about the Endless Story, the book. It was fascinating to read, finding ideas so different and “creative” for a fantasy book. Well, it is supposed to be like that on fiction, right?

Why then most books or movies picture so many similar things?
My guess again?

I think we play too small.

We are afraid of playing big and we are afraid to put big crazy ideas into the world. Because they are difficult to accept for everybody at first. But if we try, and if we do, they can become really big things (or that worthy innovation). So why not try?
There is no doubt that creatives do use that skill, but why is that we don’t talk about it? Even in self-help or sports training, remember you reading the word “visualise”? I think that gets pretty close to “imagine”. And that’s powerful. Really powerful.

To conclude this post I’d like to introduce a couple more of definitions:
– Creativity is defined by psychological scientists as the generation of ideas or products that are both original and valuable. Creativity relies on imagination, the conscious representations of what is not immediately present to the senses.(Source)
Creativity is domesticated imagination. While this second is wild and mostly about impossible happenings, creativity is original and possible. (Source)

And my last question: Then, is creative thinking a way of using imagination? or is it the trigger for the creative process?

Further reading:  – The differences between imagination, creativity, and innovation

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