Ideas, Creativity and Imagination – Oh My!

As I brainstormed and mindmapped my way to a plan for the rest of this month’s blogs, it occurred to me that a few definitions were perhaps overdue.  I thought I’d take a little detour and look up the meanings of some words that are relevant to my theme this month. 

I can hear those who know me now, “Jackie taking a detour? Nooooo!  Really? I can’t believe it!” Spoken in a very sarcastic tone.  My response…it’s the creative mind at work. Get used to it.

Obviously the word to start with is IDEA, since my theme is Great Ideas. The definition of idea according to the Free Online Dictionary:

i·de·a  n.

1. Something, such as a thought or conception, that potentially or actually exists in the mind as a product of mental activity.

2. An opinion, conviction, or principle.

3. A plan, scheme, or method.

4. The gist of a specific situation; significance.

5. A notion; a fancy.

 I wasn’t really satisfied with those statements, so I delved a little deeper.

 1. Any content of the mind, especially the conscious mind.

2. The thought of something.

3. A mental representation of something.

4. The characterization of something in general terms; concept.

5. An individual’s conception of something.

6. The belief that something is the case.

7. A scheme, intention, plan, etc.

8. A vague notion or indication; inkling.

 Then I found the word IDEATE.   Now that’s an odd word.  Does anyone actually use that in conversation?

v. i·de·at·ed, i·de·at·ing, i·de·ates

 1. To form an idea of; imagine or conceive.

 Next time I have an idea, I’m going to use ideate.  I’m going to say “I was ideating last night and I decided to….”

So then I wondered, since an ‘idea’ is defined as a ‘thought’ that potentially or actually exists in the mind, how is THOUGHT defined? Well, since you asked, it’s defined as:

1. The content of cognition; the main thing you are thinking about; “it was not a good idea”; “the thought never entered my mind”

 Now for a short detour from the detour.  I also found some fascinating other definitions:

Brainstorm: A sudden and powerful thought; a good idea. The concept of forcefulness contained in the storm element seems to be losing ground to that of disorder and chaos, so that brainstorm is now most often used ironically to mean a whimsical or ill-considered notion, a stupid idea. (Wow! And I thought brainstorm was a verb, meaning to come up with a whole bunch of ideas)

Brown study: Absorption in thought; a pensive mood; absent-mindedness. This phrase dates from the early 16th century; the brown of the expression apparently stemmed from brown ‘gloomy.’ Citations indicate that the phrase varies in meaning: it may be used for serious thought; for apparent pensiveness masking actual absent-mindedness; or for simple idle daydreaming. (Now I have a new phrase to use when I’m gloomy)

A horseback opinion: A guess, an offhand impression, a hasty opinion or judgment delivered without “stopping to think,” as though from horseback. Use of this U.S. colloquialism dates from the late 19th century. I am not here as a judicial authority or oracle. I can only give horseback opinion. (Congressional Record, April 23, 1879) (I like this one and I will definitely add it to my day to day conversation).

Okay back to business.  It appears that thought and idea are actually synonyms.  So how about creativity?  Weikipedia defines CREATIVITY as:

Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new (a product, a solution, a work of art, etc.) that has some kind of value. What counts as “new” may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs. What counts as “valuable” is similarly defined in a variety of ways.

Wikipedia actually has a very comprehensive discussion of creativity and warrants further exploration.  But since all I’m looking for today is a simple definition, back to Free Online Dictionary, where they definte creativity as:

1. Having the ability or power to create.

2. Productive; creating.

3. Characterized by originality and expressiveness; imaginative.

Don’t you just hate it when they define a word using the word they are defining?  Isn’t there some governing body for word definers that can make that illegal?

So, since they brought it up, how about IMAGINATION?

1. The ability to deal resourcefully with unexpected or unusual problems, circumstances, etc.

2. The formation of a mental image of something that is neither perceived as real nor present to the senses. (Hmmm, sounds similar to the definition of faith in Hebrews !!:1 – the only difference being that you have to have the assured expectation that what you are imagining is real)

3. The mental image so formed.

4. The ability or tendency to form such images.

5. The ability to confront and deal with reality by using the creative power of the mind; resourcefulness:

6. An unrealistic idea or notion; a fancy.

Napoleon Hill differentiated between synthetic imagination and creative imagination and it appeared that with synthetic imagination he was talking about INNOVATION, so I looked that up.

The term innovation derives from the Latin innovatio, the noun of action from innovare. The word first came into modern use in 1540 and stems from the Latin innovatus, pp. of innovare “to renew or change,” from in- “into” + novus “new”.[1] Although the term is broadly used, innovation generally refers to the creation or improvement of products, technologies, or ideas. Innovation is distinguished from renovation in that innovation generally signifies a substantial change or difference versus more incremental changes.

But here’s what the Free Online Dictionary says about innovation:

1. The act of introducing something new.

2. Something newly introduced.

Sounds like a contradiction to me.  In fact, it sounds a lot more like creativity or Napoleon Hill’s creative imagination.

So there you have it.  Clear as mud.  An idea is a thought and a thought is an idea.  Creativity is the ability to come up with a new thought or idea, which requires the ability to create a mental image of that new thought, which may or may not be completely new and if it isn’t new, then it’s an innovation rather than a creation. 

I like this better.  It might not be a definition but it definitely describes the experience of creativity, of coming up with great ideas. 

Have you ever observed a child, friend, or colleague’s expression upon discovering a creative “new” idea?  The face brightens — the eyes sparkle, open wider and appear to gaze upwards towards heaven.  Wow . . . creation has revealed itself!  The energy field surrounding this moment is electrifying, dynamic, and palpable.  If you could look inside the mind, you would see creative energy at work.

This is from MaryAnn D’Ambrosio’s blog.  Incidentally, she is also participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge and challenging herself to use her imagination to ideate and share her ideas with the world.  Here’s the link to her blog.

How do you define imagination? How do you define a great idea? Sign up for the Great Idea Challenge and let me know.


About futurepull

I'm a dreamweaver, a sorcerer, co-creator of this brilliant and exciting adventure of life. We're here for the experience, why not make it fun? Try new things, build castles and live in them, paint your future, become friends with eagles and flamingos and iguanas, make a million and give it away. Your future is limited only by your imagination.
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