Where Did Creativity Go? (And What’s With All This Structure?)

Coming into this whole university thing, I’ve been doing a lot of writing. I’m working on a short story now, have two essays on philosophy and sociology to write, and have a news article due really soon. It’s immense, it’s nerve wrecking and it’s a bit too much at times.

But worst of all, it’s structured.

The whole thing is so damn structured you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Of course, it’s all supposed to be structured; if it wasn’t then what’s the whole point? It’d be like playing soccer without goals and with players just passing the ball around. Some skill would be evident, but no one would pay to watch. Structure remains a product of divinity, passed down by the academia Gods, a royal concept for generation after generation of student, scholar, professor, proofreader, editor. A lot of people out there love structure.

There’s really nothing wrong with structure. It keeps things in place, and keeps us from feeling insecure. It almost feels like a spillover from the sciences, with all their formulas and precision. As long as you have a template to constantly refer to you can be sure that a base level of quality will be assured. We were taught this from a young age. We have an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion. One of your body paragraphs can be a counterargument, but a rebuttal has to lithely slip its way into the mix. That, they say, is a good essay structure. That, we have been told, will get us the A’s.

What all this structure has failed to teach us is creativity.

The saddest fact is not that most of us shut out creativity from our lives. The saddest thing is that many of us are ashamed of it. Back in secondary school we had five essay questions to choose from. Four of them would be either discursive or argumentative essays, while the fifth would have the creative writing component to it. You could write a story about a fireman saving cats, or just wax lyrical about your dreams to become the first man on the sun. If you had a teacher that actively promoted the last option, then good for you. Because in most cases, the teacher would warn the class against it, and proceed to train students specifically for the argumentative essays. If students did progress to JC, then they’d find the creative component to have disappeared altogether. It is no surprise, then, that we distance ourselves from creativity like the plague. We were subtly denied of it as we grew up.

Creativity, I believe, stems from human chaos. If you were to sit down and attempt to plot out the essence of creativity, I assure you, you’d fail. Creativity is an active rebellion; it does not like to be confined. We all have within us this huge, dark storeroom of dusty relics, antiques from our pasts, waiting to spill out violently when the door opens. Within all this chaos in our hearts and minds, something beautiful happens, and occasionally this beauty spills onto a film reel, from the tips of a paintbrush, the hem of a dress, onto the pages of a book. 

I wouldn’t go as far as to blame this society for it (that would be deliberately controversial), because ultimately, I feel that creativity is, and will always be, a personal choice. I think as humans we all have a duty to embrace this creativity, to go crazy every once in a while and show the world what we really want from this life.

Above all, we need not be ashamed of any inconsistencies, or any kink in our infallible armour. We are but the product of our failures and shortcomings. We do not need to disassociate ourselves from chaos or the fact that our lives have been, and will always be, far from perfect. All we need is the courage to try.

The world should not expect us to organise this mess because the mess is the whole point.

This mess makes us, us. We should always be proud of that.

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