Imagination and Creativity: A Closer Look

“Our imagination can mold reality if we allow our minds to break into a state of creative thinking.” Weber(2019)

Many a time, imagination and creativity have been used interchangeably. Sometimes, they are used in the same context. This shows that there could be something that joins these two concepts together. The correlation between these concepts is amazing and should be discovered for efficiency. 

Stokes (2016) in his article, Imagination, and Creativity, defined imagination as “a voluntary mental activity that involves mental representation of subjectively non-present objects and events. It often involves an image, sensory in character, but perhaps it need not.” Imagination has to do with images and thoughts conjured in the mind about a particular event or thing. It is something invisible but important. 

Today’s Most Important Ability

If the power of imagination is properly acknowledged, the world of creativity can be birthed. Imagination plays a major role in the process of creativity.  Morr (2018) in her article, What is Creativity? The Ultimate Guide to Understanding today’s Most Important Ability” defined creativity as “ the ability to transcend traditional ways of thinking or acting and to develop new and original ideas, methods or objects.” Indeed (2021) defined creativity as “ the ability to think about a task or a problem in a new or different way, or the ability to use the imagination to generate new ideas.” 

In essence, creativity is developing something new or producing new ways to solve problems. 

Imagination is not Creativity

Imagination is different from creativity. However, they work hand in hand. Christensen (2010) in his article, Imagination is not Creativity, stated that “the biggest difference between creativity and imagination is that imagination is thinking of something – whether it’s an object, place, time, etc, that is not present while creativity is doing something meaningful with your imagination.” This is why imagination should not just stop at that. If it doesn’t lead to the creation of something, it is mere fantasy and unproductive. 

Different scholars and authors posit that imagination is a wasteful act and should be replaced with the act of actually doing something. An article published by Bright Horizons, Nurturing Creativity and Imagination for Child Development, expounded that “imagination is the door to possibilities. It is where creativity, ingenuity, and thinking outside the box begins.” This means imagination births creativity and innovations of all kinds. Imagination becomes highly productive when backed up with deliberate actions. 

The Importance of Imagination

Haas (2014) in his article,  The Importance of Imagination, talks extensively about the impact of imagination on creativity. He asserted that ” the ability to imagine things pervades our entire existence. It influences everything we do, think about, and create. It leads to elaborate theories, dreams, and inventions in any profession from the realms of academia, to engineering and the arts. Ultimately, imagination influences everything we do regardless of our profession. Imagination is the key to innovation.” 

Imagination and Creativity
Photograph by  Toa Heftiba (Unspalsh.com).

Stages of the Creative Process

In the process of creating something new, technical and professional know-how is very important. Without that, it may become difficult to get that which has been imagined into real life. Botella (2018) in her article, What are the Stages of the Creative Process? What Visual Art Students are Saying, explained that the creative process is the “succession of thoughts and actions leading to original and appropriate productions.” 

While going through the creative process, the appropriate knowledge of the area of expertise is needed to put imagination and creativity into work. However, creativity merged with imagination is sometimes deemed to be more important than knowledge. Simpson (1922) in his journal article, Creative Imagination, claimed that “creative imagination is worth more than mere book knowledge. Education and intelligence are merely the means by which we facilitate the liberation of this creative energy.”

In conclusion, imagination and creativity are important and must be developed concurrently. Purdy (2017) in her article, Creativity Vs. Imagination, while talking about imagination and creativity advises that “just because you may be strong in one doesn’t mean you are strong in the other and vice versa. They both need to be cultivated in order to have breakthrough ideas.” Therefore, take it upon yourself to always develop your imagination and creativity skills for maximum productivity.

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