“Creativity seems to emerge from multiple experiences, coupled with a well-supported development of personal resources, including a sense of freedom to venture beyond the known.”~Loris Malaguzzi
Creativity is valuable and has been studied over the years. It’s the phenomenon of making novel associations and creating something new and original.Creativity has been present in several disciplines that include science, mathematics, education, philosophy, psychology, sociology and technology. Most people associate creativity with the fields of art and literature.
Ludwig Lewisohn (1882-1955) was a novelist and critic, born in Berlin and brought as a child to the U.S. He wrote The Creative Life in 1924. In it, he devotes a whole chapter on literature and life and what influences creativity.
In his Epilogue, he wrote about Goethe, the critic:
“That critical philosophy may be quite briefly formulated: (1) Art is personal and creates its own laws by what it is; (2) art is the expression of concrete experience; (3) the concretely real is the universally significant.”
Jan Phillips, an award-winning photographer, writer, multimedia artist, and national workshop leader, authored the book, Marry Your Muse: Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity.
Douglas Eby wrote an article on her interview with the Sounds True site. Eby's article stated:
In an interview for the Sounds True site, she talks about other aspects of our thinking, attitudes and inner life that can prevent or allow greater access to our creativity. Here is an excerpt:
Jan Phillips: It helps to get clear about the whole point of creative expression, since so many of us have been trained to think of it as a self-indulgent or frivolous activity that should only be engaged in when everyone else’s needs have been tended to first. But it is only our creative work that really matters. We came here to create. Our souls had a divine purpose and they needed our bodies to fulfill it. This purpose—whatever it is—is only achieved through our creative and imaginative expressions.
The question is never “Am I creative?” The question is “What am I being called upon to create at this point?”
To be aware of our own potential and calling to contribute is an important part of the creative process.
Being conscious is the first step—conscious of our words, thoughts, and ways of being with others. Paying attention to who we are and coming to grips with why we’re here is a crucial part of the creative process in my opinion.
Because the work we put out into the world has a force of its own, and we want to be mindful of that—mindful of what we’re up to, why we’re up to it, and how we’re going to accomplish it.”
She believes the Muse, or creative spirit is within us all.
Shelley H. Carson, Ph.D. wrote in her article Creativity and the Aging Brain: Use the powers of the aging brain to enhance creativity.
In her article, she makes comparisons between the aging brain and the creative brain. She writes:
“The aging brain is characterized by a broadening focus of attention. Numerous studies suggest that highly creative individuals also employ a broadened rather than focused state of attention. This state of widened attention allows the individual to have disparate bits of information in mind at the same time. Combining remote bits of information is the hallmark of the creative idea.”
She also writes:
“Other studies show that certain areas of the prefrontal cortex involved in self-conscious awareness and emotions are thinner in the aging brain. This may correlate with the diminished need to please and impress others, which is a notable characteristic of both aging individuals and creative luminaries. Both older individuals and creative types are more willing to speak their minds and disregard social expectations than are their younger, more conventional counterparts.”
Do we have to wait until we’re old to discover our creative potential?
According to a Time Magazine science article, The Hidden Secrets of the Creative Mind, the answer to that question is no. The article points out:
“No one has a better overview of this mysterious mental process than Washington University psychologist R. Keith Sawyer, author of the new book Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation (Oxford; 336 pages). In an interview with Francine Russo, Sawyer shares some of his findings and suggests ways in which we can enhance our creativity not just in art, science or business but in everyday life.
“Many people believe creativity comes in a sudden moment of insight and that this "magical" burst of an idea is a different mental process from our everyday thinking. But extensive research has shown that when you're creative, your brain is using the same mental building blocks you use every day—like when you figure out a way around a traffic jam.
Studying notebooks, manuscripts and historical records, we've dissected the creative process of people like the Wright brothers, Charles Darwin, T.S. Eliot, Jackson Pollock, even business innovators like Citigroup's John Reed. We find that creativity happens not with one brilliant flash but in a chain reaction of many tiny sparks while executing an idea.
Ideas don't magically appear in a genius' head from nowhere. They always build on what came before. And collaboration is key. Look at what others in your field are doing. Brainstorm with people in different fields. Research and anecdotal evidence suggest that distant analogies lead to new ideas—like when a heart surgeon bounces things off an architect or a graphic designer.
No one can be creative at everything. You have to work hard in your area. All the research shows that the creative process is basically the same: generating ideas, evaluating them and executing them, with many creative sparks over time. The role of collaboration may be more obvious in business than in writing, but even apparently solitary creators like writers read constantly and talk to one another.”
He also gives advice on how to be more creative.
“Take risks, and expect to make lots of mistakes, because creativity is a numbers game. Work hard, and take frequent breaks, but stay with it over time. Do what you love, because creative breakthroughs take years of hard work. Develop a network of colleagues, and schedule time for freewheeling, unstructured discussions. Most of all, forget those romantic myths that creativity is all about being artsy and gifted and not about hard work. They discourage us because we're waiting for that one full-blown moment of inspiration. And while we're waiting, we may never start working on what we might someday create.”
I’d have to agree with him. There’s an old Japanese Proverb that says: “I will master something. Then creativity will come.”
In my opinion, you don’t have to be Einstein to tap into your creative soul.
- James D. Hart and and Phillip W. Leininger. "Lewisohn, Ludwig." The Oxford Companion to American Literature. 1995. Encyclopedia.com. (August 4, 2011). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O123-LewisohnLudwig.html
- The Creative Life. Contributors: Ludwig Lewisohn - author. Publisher: Boni and Liveright. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1924. Page Number: 205.