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The Creative Spiral: What is Creativity?

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

When making sourdough bread, it’s essential to have a healthy starter. A sourdough starter begins as a simple combination of flour and water. Once combined and left over time, the starter will begin to ferment and cultivate the natural yeasts found in its environment. Because of this, no two sourdough starters are exactly the same. To make a sourdough loaf, you must add the starter for the dough to rise. Without it, the dough will remain the same size, hardening in a bowl.

Much like a sourdough starter, creativity is an essential ingredient in an artist’s life. Like a healthy starter, it takes in our surroundings and synthesizes them into something new. Without creativity, we are simply replicating what’s already been done, and are on a one-way track to burnout- AKA hardening in a bowl.

So, what is creativity?

The American Psychological Association defines creative thinking as “the mental processes leading to a new invention, solution, or synthesis in any area. A creative solution may use preexisting elements … but creates a new relationship between them.” (American Psychological Association, no date)

This is important. Creativity uses "preexisting elements" but creates a "new relationship between them" in a way that’s useful or beautiful or hopefully both. Creativity is marveling at the things around you, connecting them in new ways, and then doing it all again.

And it’s not just for artists. Cultivating creativity will improve your life no matter your occupation. It will help you plan parties, connect with people, be funnier, stay smarter for longer, fight off boredom, and open your mind. In fact, Forbes magazine recently published an article detailing a list of some physical benefits of creative thinking: increased happiness, reduced dementia, improved mental health, boosted immune system, and a smarter brain. (Stahl, 2022)

In short, creativity has the power to improve every aspect of your life. As renowned author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote:

“A creative life is an amplified life. It's a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life” (Elizabeth Gilbert, 2016).

No person, profession, or group has a monopoly on it. Creativity is for everyone, especially you.


Apa Dictionary of Psychology (no date) American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association. Available at: (Accessed: March 2, 2023).

Gilbert, E. (2016) Big magic. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Stahl, A. (2022) Here's how creativity actually improves your health, Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Available at: (Accessed: March 2, 2023).

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Creativity is without a doubt your superpower! Amazing the similarities to sourdough starter!! I thought of the movie “Finding Forrester.” In it, the teacher would have the students take the title of another persons work to write their own. It’s the same idea. “A new relationship from pre-existing ideas.“ Such a cool creative process.

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