Sunday, November 22, 2015

Where Does Creativity Come From?

by Lisa Trovillion

A writer friend of mine powered out the whole second half of her novel in a matter of two months, tops. I think it took me several years to crank out the painful first draft of mine. Perhaps this novel writing business goes quicker with time and experience. Perhaps. Or maybe she is just more creative than I am. Yeah, that's got to be the answer, I decide. My writer paranoia kicks in.  I'm just not creative enough!

All kidding aside, it made me think about the nature of creativity, where ideas come from, and what spurs imagination. What part of the brain is responsible for creativity and why are some people just so much better at it than others? Wouldn't it be terrific if you could do something to fire off that part of the brain at will or drink something (I know what you're thinking) to access it easier? Well, I started looking into that very question.  Apparently, I'm not the only one interested because if you do an Amazon search for "creativity" and the "brain" it will give you a list of 2,902 titles. Lots of research has been done on this question. As a result of my amateur self-study course into neuroscience, I discovered two books which stand out in not only their description of the brain's function in imagination and creativity, but also how you can take steps to access and improve those areas. The titles are: How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael Gelb and Your Creative Brain by Shelley Carson.

And yet, there is still a missing component in this pursuit of creative excess...and that is discipline and persistence. I've found that creativity is like a pump; you have to prime it first before it starts to work. That priming includes putting things into your brain that are interesting, beautiful, challenging, even upsetting, in order to get it working and churning and pumping out something. You also have to be open to everything around you all the time--to notice things, even the every day things. Lastly, you have to use creativity like a muscle to strengthen it. When I force myself to sit down and come up with something, I am still surprised that the more I do it, the faster ideas come to mind. So, until we find a means of directly tapping into the creativity center of the brain at will, we writers will have to keep "butt in seat, fingers on keyboard" and brain open to the creative muse.

What's your muse and how do you access it best?

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