Creativity allows us to view and solve problems. It opens our minds. Especially in difficult and lonely time’s creativity is the best self-therapy and healing solution for our heart, mind, and soul. Creativity is the ability to generate, create, or discover new ideas, solutions, and possibilities. During this horrible global pandemic crisis, everyone was challenged in one or another way, which gave me the idea to feature a few creative guests in my summer blog series Corona & Creativity.
My first guest in my blog series 2021 is my delightful and multi-talented friend Maria Sara Cetraro from Rome.
First of all, thank you for being my guest. Tell me what means creativity to you?
I think creativity doesn’t just mean crafting something that didn’t exist before using your imagination and artistic ability. I see it as an attitude or, better said, a lifestyle! The way you look at reality and interpret it can be creative itself if you are open-minded and able to notice the details nobody cares about and make original connections between them.
What is your favorite creative activity?
My favorite creative activities are singing in the choir and writing. Even though I don’t compose the pieces I sing, I feel creative in the way I use my voice to perform the choral repertoire, which can be different depending on my mood or physical conditions. I define it as my flow experience, and it is the same with writing. It can be a blog post, a short poem, or a tiny story, when I write I feel totally absorbed in the process of finding and combining the rights words for how they sound together and the message I want to give.
What is your favorite colour?
My favorite colour is green! I think that’s why I love walking in the woods.
Did you discover a creative activity or new passion during the corona Lockdown? What exactly?
During the first Lockdown in Italy I re-discovered my passion for nature. I had more time to watch the flowers and the fruits grow in my garden and follow the weird behaviors of the animals.
As a creative activity, I would mention… walking! I read an interesting book about famous walkers and the importance of this activity to boost creativity. I can confirm that some of the best ideas I had in that period came up to my mind while I was walking.
I also attended some online courses on creativity. One of them was actually a creative challenge and it consisted of crafting strange objects every day using only the materials I had on my desk. It was really funny!
I don’t think creative people are happier in general, but I think they have more resources and tools to turn difficult and sad situations into positive ones. So they are not happier by default, but they know how to track the path to happiness.
Would you say creativity is kind of self-therapy?
Yes, I think creativity is a kind of self-therapy as it helps you to focus on your qualities and deal with your weaknesses. From this self-consciousness, you learn to draw both a compassionate and empowering way of looking at yourself and at people around you.
Would you say that creative people are more driven and disciplined?
think that creative people have a sort of inner discipline. Maybe some of them
use a board to schedule their actions and strictly monitor their projects,
while others seem to be evanescent and dependent on the ups and downs of
In both cases, I think they have a set of rules that work for them, even if they are not referable to a ‘scientific methodology.
For example, lately, I found it really useful to listen to podcasts about creativity, in particular, Creative Pep Talk run by illustrator Andy J. Pizza. I took a lot of good tips from it, which became part of my ‘creative routine’. I know it can sound contradictory since we normally don’t conceive creativity as a ‘routine’, but it helped me to develop a productive mindset which I use when I feel stuck or short of ideas.
The meaning of “Creativity” is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness! Creativity is going beyond the usual, stepping outside the box. It can be defined in many ways, such as how a person explores ideas or uses different ways to solve issues and how one experiences life. So what was your original idea, or what did you create during lockdown? You can list more than one.
The lockdown was the occasion to train my ‘lateral thinking’ as I was stuck in a situation where all of the things and habits that I had taken for granted were completely out of order. This approach worked particularly fine for my job at GigsGuide, an online service for music and travel lovers. The main activity of GigsGuide consists in helping users to find great concerts in the cities they visit based on the music they like. In just 3 clicks you can book the concert’s ticket, the flight, and the hotel, planning an original trip and a unique music experience. This service also helps the cities to promote themselves as music destinations and to grow the fan base of their local music scene.
You can imagine how this beautiful mission was compromised by the forced shutdown of travels and concerts caused by the pandemic. But the ‘lateral thinking’ helped me and my brother Francesco (CEO of GigsGuide) to find a solution by exploring a side field: the live-streamed concerts! So, during the lockdown, we transformed GigsGuide in one of the most complete platforms listing online concerts from all over the ‘virtual world. We also hosted some artists on our website, launching the series “GigsGuide presents...”.
Since I discovered many new great artists while listing the online concerts and promoting them on social media, I also started a series on my personal blog to display my music tips ‘made in GigsGuide’.
While you may have natural creativity skills, there are also skills that can be learned and developed over time. Would you say your creative skills are natural or trained?
Now that I am in my thirties, I can recognize what are my natural skills, as I have a more mature understanding of my life path. I think singing is one of them because, as far as I can remember, I have always been singing. But the way I sing now is the result of more than 15 years of training in the choir. It is the same with inventing stories and writing. If I read now what I used to write when I was a teenager, I can see some recurring traits, but many other things have changed over time as I learned new techniques or simply new words! I think that if you only leverage your natural skills without improving them with training, you will end up boring yourself and other people, and most of all you lose the chance to prove yourself and grow.
A new study from researchers has found that women are engaged in creative fields like art, music, and literature at higher rates than men and are generally more creative than men. What is your thought on that?
I have never thought about creativity in gender terms. I think that both men and women can be creative at different levels and in many ways. As I don’t consider art, music, and literature as the main ‘creative fields’, I would define “creative” also a woman who makes experiments in a chemical laboratory.
Maybe we should switch the focus from the creative process to the way people judge the creative products made by women compared to those crafted by men. So my question would be: do men and women have the same creative identity or creative dignity in the public eye?
Maria, do you think being creative and productive is also related to the season? For example are you more creative in the summer or in winter?
In my own experience, productivity is not influenced by the seasons. I feel quite more affected by my ‘inner’ cycle of the seasons, my emotional states, the people I meet, the experiences I live. Maybe the seasons have an impact on the mood of my creative works, for example during the Winter I might tend to be more introspective, while in the Summer I might be more hilarious and free-minded, but it also depends on many other factors.
Find creative words to describe yourself to my blog visitors.
I would choose three expressions that I found in two books I read about finding a fulfilling work and live a fulfilling life. They are wide-achiever, portfolio worker and Renaissance person. They all refer to the multi-faceted identity of a person who is able to shape his/her working and private life around his/her interests and passions. I have been pursuing this dream for many years and finally I can say that today my life is full of the things I love: I work in the music field with GigsGuide and my choir; I am in the publishing field as I read and review a lot of books and I write different contents online and offline; and then, I work in the educational and social fields with Calciosociale and Community Organizing, two organizations aiming at developing a culture of empathy, inclusion, and active citizenship in the suburbs of Rome. I feel blessed!
Thank you dear Maria Sara for being my blog guest in 2021 and best of luck with all your creative activities and projects.