Looking into Creativity

Wed, May 1, 2019 by Albert

Creativity is an essential life skill. OK, we’re an arts organisation; we’re bound to say that. As in the last twelve months we’ve been looking more at creativity through the retreats we’ve been running, we wanted to investigate what you, the general public think of creativity. We wanted to discover if creativity matters to you.

Using the power of Settle Stories social media, we asked five key questions to capture a range of insights, uncovering the importance of creativity to you, to the obstacles that stop you releasing your creativity. This report details our findings. To those who took part, a huge thanks for being a part of the research.


We asked ‘Is creativity important to you? Tell us why.’

A resounding 100% of respondents said yes. This was to be expected as those not interested in creativity were less likely to take part in this research. Answers to this question showed key insights. These were:

  • Being creative helps people find solutions to problems.
  • Being creative is critical to communication both with oneself and with others.
  • Creativity adds deeper meaning to life.
  • Creativity is critical to self expression.
  • Creative people communicate ideas.

We asked ‘In what ways are you creative?’

Answers varied from the expected ‘storyteller’, ‘painter’ ‘writer’ and ‘musician. Other more unusual answers which came up several times included ‘dreaming’, ‘meditation’, ‘creative communicator’, ‘entrepreneur’.

Interestingly, several respondents used this opportunity to mention their desire to be more focused with their creative outlets.

We asked ‘Do you prioritise creativity in busy periods of your life?’

Just one third of respondents answered they did and two thirds of respondents answered ‘no.’

Recurrent themes in participants answers included:

  • Creativity is not something that is prioritised, simply there are times when people find they need creativity more than others, for example when they are feeling stressed.
  • Often the time when people are most creative is when they come across opportunities through events in public spaces/buildings. When an opportunity arises to take on a new challenge, people will take part.
  • Many respondents who said they didn’t prioritise creativity said finding time to being creative was not conducive to looking after a busy family and or working.
  • Many people who answered ‘no’ commented that creativity comes to them on a whim.

We asked ‘What obstacles stop you realising your creativity?’

This question revealed that over 80% of people felt a lack of time was the most significant factor. Other key obstacles included:

  • Lack of resources and or funding. This was a recurring theme particularly amongst those who were clearly earning a living as a creative / artist.
  • Prioritising socialising with friends / family.
  • Technology distracts people from focusing on their creativity. Several people commented that they spend to much time surfing the internet and then wondering where time had disappeared to.
  • The need to prioritise practical tasks, these ranged from cleaning and looking after children to completing paid for work that was unfulfilling but had to be done.

Finally we asked ‘What one action could you take to enhance your creativity today?’

This final question had a resoundingly clear response. Nearly all participants commented they could set aside some time. Other common responses included:

  • Focusing on one creative thing at a time instead of trying to do everything at once.
  • Take advice from experts.
  • Try out a new activity.
  • Justifying to oneself that it’s ok to spend time nurturing one’s own interests.

Overall it is clear that creativity is important to people. It is a key tool used to express ideas and add greater meaning to life. What has also become clear is that ‘creativity’ has a broad meaning to different people. Creativity manifests itself in individuals in a wide variety of ways, from the more expected ‘Storyteller’, ‘Painter’ and ‘Musician’ to people thinking of ‘dreaming’, ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘communication’ as ways in which creativity manifests itself in them.

Sadly it seems that whilst we highly value creativity we do not find time to prioritise our creative outlets. This is often due to family and work commitments. Many creative people are creative on a whim, and use creativity as a tool to avoid and overcome stress. For creative professionals, lack of funding stops them realising their creative ideas. This is sad as many commented that they discover new creative outlets through public workshops etc and feel in order to enhance their creativity they should take further advice from professionals. It is clear that creative people have many interests. This research shows that many see the need to focus their creative energy to avoid being a jack of all trades and a master of none. This research will inform future retreats for creatives that Settle Stories runs. If you are interested in joining us on retreat in the Yorkshire Dales, more info can be found by clicking here. Alternatively, be sure you’re signed up to our mailing list to be kept in the loop about our activity.

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