Sunday September 03, 2017

Are we wired to create?

Listen 10:28

This segment first aired in January 2016.

Creativity has long been considered a sort of mysterious 'gift' that some lucky people happen to have.

The latest research in neuroscience and psychology, though, suggests that innovative people often rely on distinctive habits and mental strategies to fuel their creativity. In other words, there's hope for the rest of us.

In the new book, Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman and co-author, Carolyn Gregoire, argue that creativity involves toggling between seemingly contradictory styles, such as intuition and rational thought, or mind-wandering and the sort of focused attention required to take a creative project from idea to reality.

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Scott Barry Kaufman (Everette Clay Harley)

In addition, they identify ten behaviours that are keys to thinking creatively. They include making time for solitude and introspection, daydreaming (ideally accompanied by walks in nature), and most critically, having new and varied experience.

"Openness to new experiences," Kaufman explains, "is the number one greatest predictor of creative achievement. That and grit, or perseverance."

If you're going through a tough time, take heart. Dealing with adversity can be a key to creativity as well.

"There is this 'tortured artist' idea that creativity requires being tortured in some way, and I think that's a great oversimplification of the reality of the matter," says Kaufman. "We all suffer...what a great opportunity; we can use that [pain] to create something that reveals some of these deep truths in a way that helps all people." 

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