The above equation is simplifying, and may be oversimplifying, but I think it’s a thought worth exploring.
Creativity rarely happens in a vacuum. I’d actually venture to say that it never happens in a vacuum. I remember a young me trying to create something that had never been done before, and I couldn’t do it. Everything I tried to make had already been done before or was an obvious riff off of someone else’s work.
As I grew, I learned that I needed to “Steal Like an Artist,” and “learn from the masters.” I learned that creativity is not something made from nothing. It’s many separate things brought together and made into something new. You must have knowledge of something in order to be creative.
But, more is required. You have to be able to make your idea real. That’s where application come in.
Application is 2 things. It’s also applying that knowledge in new ways, and it’s actually creating something.
Coming up with novel ways to mix established knowledge is how creativity really happens. Excellent writers learn the writing styles of the masters before building their own. Artists study their idol’s work before branching out.
It’s the mixing of several, sometimes contradictory styles that marks something as truly creative.
But the other half is that you actually have to make something. All the good ideas or great works of art in the world aren’t worth much if they only ever live in someone’s head. Make them real.
Go out and make your own ideas. Think about several things you love. How can you combine them in a way that no one’s ever done before? Now go make that real.