14 Key Components of Creativity: How do you measure up?

All writers are creative, right?

They are if they meet certain criteria. But what is that criteria?

That’s a question researcher Jordanous Keller wanted to answer. So he conducted an empirical study and analysis of language commonly used to talk or write about creativity[1]. Using tools from natural language processing and statistical analysis, he and his team identified words highly associated with dimensions of creativity. Keller then chose 30 research papers examining creativity from various academic standpoints, ranging from psychological studies to computational models, and 60 academic papers on topics unrelated to creativity.

Keller and his team then identified 694 key words associated with creativity and 14 common themes or components of creativity. Transferring his findings to writing, here are 14 elements of creativity that will give you a good idea if you’re being as creative as you’d like to be:

The 14 key components of creativity related to writing are:

  1. You are proactively involved in a cognitive process from which an idea or product results. You are tenacious enough to continue the quest, even when thwarted by obstacles.
  2. You are able to cope when incomplete, missing, inconsistent, contradictory, ambiguous and/or uncertain information in involved. You are comfortable not knowing what to expect and willing to risk failure. You embrace experimentation
  3. You possess knowledge about writing, as well as the talent, skills, experience, and expertise that will recognize gaps, needs, or problems that need solving and to generate, validate, develop and promote revolutionary ideas in your genre.
  4. You’re not a genius, but you’re smart, informed, alert, and focused.
  5. You are working towards some end target, goal, or result and producing something (tangible or intangible) that previously did not exist.
  6. You are capable of working independently, ideally with autonomy over actions and decisions, and you love to challenge cultural or domain/genre norms.
  7. You make an emotional investment in your work, but you view creativity as a positive process that offers fulfillment and enjoyment irrespective of the outcome.
  8. Your work is often unpredictable, unexpected, surprising, unusual, and/or out of the ordinary.
  9. You are always evolving as a writer and becoming better at what you do.
  10. You communicate and promote your work to others in a persuasive and positive manner. When required, you’re a good collaborator.
  11. You’re spontaneous and engage your subconscious while writing.
  12. You use reasoning and good judgment to consciously evaluate options, to recognize potential value in each and identify the best option, and you make decisions rather than stagnate.
  13. You are making a useful contribution that is valued and recognized as an achievement and that reflects influential advancement. Your work is relevant and appropriate to your genre.
  14. You’re good at generating a variety of different ideas to compare and choose from, staying flexible and open, and experimenting without bias. You use multi-tasking to allow ideas to emerge while your cognitive focus is diverted.

So how do you measure up? If you’re falling short, stay tuned as I’ll be clarifying these concepts and discussing ways to bolster creativity in coming blogs. Meanwhile . . .

Happy Writing!


[1] Jordanous A, Keller B (2016) Modeling Creativity: Identifying Key Components through a Corpus-Based Approach. PLoS ONE 11(10): e0162959. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0162959 Editor: Peter Csermely, Semmelweis University, HUNGARYReceived: March 8, 2016; Accepted: August 31, 2016; Published: October 5, 2016Copyright: © 2016 Jordanous, Keller.

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