Productive originality, the generation of something resulting from your inspiration.

Complementary virtues

Contrasting vices

  • conventionality
  • unoriginality

Virtues possibly in tension


How to acquire or strengthen it

  • Something of a dilemma, in that if you notice “Creative people do X” and then think “I’ll do X; then I’ll be creative too” you’re not being creative but imitative. You have to go up a level from X.
  • Some correlates of creativity suggest possible avenues: independence, non-conformity, unconventionality, open-mindedness, boldness, curiosity. But also: “Highly creative individuals are often inclined to exhibit above-normal levels of symptoms that are often associated with clinical diagnosis” (e.g. depression, mania, anti-social behavior, extreme introversion). Peterson & Seligman Character Strengths and Virtues p. 118.
  • Creativity sometimes comes from combining things in novel ways, so maybe think of two things in your life at which you are already proficient, but that don’t seem to make any sense together and try to figure out how you would merge them: How would I cook dinner in a minor key? How would I repair my car if I wanted it to grow larger every day until it ripens? What would several YouTube videos look like if they were knitted together into a scarf?
  • Lots of ideas about how to boost creativity (e.g. brainstorming, mind maps, stream-of-consciousness writing, sleeping on it) or ideas based on trying to replicate the idiosyncrasies of particular creative people.

Notes and links

Mentioned elsewhere

Inspirational quotes

  • “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ―Albert Einstein
  • “A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” ―Ayn Rand
  • “As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.” ―Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” ―Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince