What is This Thing Called Creativity? Where does it come from? by J.L. Canfield

Creativity – Using the imagination to create something–Oxford Dictionary
Creativity – Discontent translated into art–Eric Hoffer

Writers, like other artists, seek their muse. We search for the Pierian Spring where myth tells us they like to hang out. Is it a muse that inspires our creativity or does it simply exist in our heads? Culture tells us that ‘right brainers’ are the creative ones in society. Science says otherwise.

Since the 1970s scientists have been working to discover why creativity exists, what part of the brain it lives in, and why some people have it and others do not. Here’s what they have found.

1.) Creativity lives in no particular part of the brain. There are functional differences between the right and left halves, but it’s not due to creativity or the lack of it.

2.) Creative potential is stunted with the early learning demands we place on children today. Society now believes children need to learn through work, not through play.

3.) Creativity is not a scientific word, but it is applied to behavior that is deemed to have unique value to a community. Unfortunately, communities change their meaning of creativity on a regular basis. For example, Picasso and Dali are considered two of the most creative painters of our time. In fourteenth century Spain, they would have been put to death by the church for blasphemy or demonic possession.

After determining creativity does not live in a certain brain area, and that we are stifling the creative abilities of future artists, is there any good news from researchers?

Scientists concluded that creativity is based on the neural firings of many behaviors acting together to form a dynamic and complex process that becomes a novel behavior. That behavior is known as creativity.

Creative people harness the new ideas or thoughts that stream through their minds based on this novel behavior.

Do you carry around a blank notebook to write down story or character ideas? Most writers do. Many artists have a sketchpad handy. Technology makes it easy to capture our fleeting thoughts with smartphones and iPads. As technology improves, so does the opportunity for those of us serious about exploring our creative side to trap all those rapidly moving neural firings taking place in our brains. Our creative boundary will know no limits.

One of the first steps in the scientific process is to observe. Creative people watch, listen, pay attention to the things surrounding them then let their imagination take flight while writing down these bold new thoughts firing in our brains, sometimes on a daily basis.

All artists have a creative muse inside. Whether it resides in the left or right side of the brain matters not. Whether it is something based upon behaviors or learned is irrelevant. What matters is how we develop it and use it, to generate the art, the writings, and the beauty that this world needs.