Creativity Element 10: Social interaction and communication

This element of creativity is interesting as it seems at odds with the independence element. Yet, there is indeed a component of socialization in the creative process. How are these two able to coexist?

From my perspective the two happen in alternation. The individual phase is a moment of deep immersion, of breaks, frustration and pauses, until a stopping point is reached. At that point, it’s where the social component take place, and I believe it’s healthy when it does happen.

I’ve identified two kinds of stopping point:

  • Creative Block Stop: in this case we have exhausted the state of flow and we’re in need of some detachment to be able to continue. We need a way to rekindle the fire. Socializing the work done until that moment is one way (yet not the only one) to achieve more detachment, and it can take many forms: it can be discussing the latest developments with someone, gathering feedback, or simply looking at what others are doing. It’s also useful to just socialize with fellow creatives, as the positive networking effect of ideas alone could trigger a new phase of the work.
  • Good Enough Stop: while there’s no internal block, there are moments when we recognize that the work done has enough shape and is complete enough to be shared with others. This is a revision phase, where seeking advice and feedback provides a positive boost to the process.

As we develop our own creativity, it’s useful to be able to recognize these kinds of stops sooner, and make use of the appropriate strategy (rekindling or revision) to progress further and with a higher degree of satisfaction.

In my perspective this also explains why some people state they never do drafts and revisions, while others highly recommend to do them. This simply means that the creative process of these individuals, maybe even in the same field, gains more benefits from other parts of the process, while others rely more on this one. Also, I’d note that some people might just engage in the social element implicitly: as they keep thinking about their work outside the time they actual work on it, they are constantly revisioning their work with others in tiny increments.

The social component is also highly relevant when we want to foster group creativity: even in groups, socializing, discussing and sharing is just one of the elements. It’s not surprising that the people who are better at supporting the creative process for bigger groups are the same people who are able to put together a process that alternates seamlessly between individual exploration and group sharing. This is a fundamental pillar of effective workshop approaches (as outlined in books like Gamestorming).

It’s also worth highlighting that different people alternate between individual and social dimensions in different ways. While I personally need deep immersion phases before sharing, I noticed that others can more fluidly hold a continuous interaction with a group, alternating their own individual creativity and the group discussion seamlessly.


This article is part of the Creativity Fourteen series.
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Product Design Director at WordPress.com / Automattic • Advisor • Coach • Speaker • BakerFramework.com Founder • Manifesto Ibridi Author

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