The best way to test for creativity is to give people props and free time. There are those people who need tasks, ordered jobs that utilize parts and have a start and endpoint. Then there are those who, when they are supposed to be doing quiet time in their room are creating a bird nest out of spare parts, finding sytrofoam eggs in an Easter decoration box, and creating a shrine to egg-laying upon which one sits and hatches eggs.
Some of Child Harbat’s most interesting and unpredictable projects have come out of quiet time when she is left to her own devices and a house full of random objects that can be repurposed and molded into whatever story she is spinning from the air. I’ll make an important distinction here that the props are not the crutches of creativity, they are the output. Given a few rocks and a scrap of fabric, CH could just as easily devise a game, an epic story, a production. So what is the magic element to creativity? Free time is one, time in which you must entertain yourself or go mad with boredom. Free time means there isn’t a glowing screen telling you how to feel and when to laugh. Free time means you don’t have a defined task with a visualized goal that will almost always disappoint when unreached. Free time means you are beginning to ask questions of yourself rather than making statements—“What could this become?” instead of “There’s nothing to do.” Creativity means you make first and then discover the object, rather than defining the object and attempting to make it. Idle collection of flowers turns into flower soup, presented in a tureen made from a beach toy.
Whether it’s writing, making music, drawing, imagining, dreaming, singing, weaving, or cooking, creativity is something you must practice yet not look directly in the eye. Just as you can’t force love you can’t force creativity but you can set the mood and open yourself up to something new and scary. If you are ready for it, creativity can find you as love can.