Author Study, The Creative Process

        Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, says in her TED presentation that creativity is not limited to a certain intellectual level, or a characteristic in a person, or a god-given creative mind. Rather, creativity is a “genius” that floats on the wind, visiting normal people, giving inspiration to make something really creative. According to her, it’s an outward force. The maddening that is sometimes associated with creative thinkers is simply the product of putting the emphasis on a singular person as the source of creativity rather than as a sort of conduit for creativity.

            While not a complete answer, I think that Gilbert is on to something, and she’s not alone. History is filled with muses, and inspiration from an external source. But, she’s not totally right, Jonah Lehrer, (2012) a sort of literary scientist, in Imagine says this about the mystery, “The sheer secrecy of creativity—the difficulty in understanding how it happens, even when it happens to us—means that we often associate breakthroughs with an external force.” (Introduction, 16) Lehrer goes on to say that he doesn’t agree with this premise but counters it with limited scientific research on the subject which says that creativity is the process of thought. In a similar vein, Dean Keith Simonton (2000) says that “evidence increasingly shows that to a certain extent, creativity demands a comparable level of systematic training.”

            I think that creativity is some combination of both the genius and the process. Some people are gifted naturally with the ability and drive to inhale all of life and it’s details. They absorb the world around them, whether that comes from nurture or nature, I don’t know.

            One of my favorite books is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Born in the beautiful Salinas valley in California, Steinbeck “formed a deep appreciation of his environment.” (Shillinglaw) He also spent a lot of time working with migrant workers, developing a sensitivity and empathy towards the poor, the displaced, the people who were lower on the social scale of life. His experience, coupled with his early desire to write, made him the writer that he was, and informed the topics that he was going to write about.

            Creativity is for anyone, I believe. Anyone can write a meaningful piece of literature, but the problem is that no one can do it without  a lot of hard work, without training, even it’s self-training, and a deep observation of life. The main point is that there is no impenetrable boundary which prevents even the most doubtful person from being a writer. Creativity comes from work, and every once in a while, that muse that floats by, flows through you and onto paper.    

Works Consulted:

“Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius | Video on TED.com.” TED: Ideas worth spreading. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Sept. 2013. <http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/elizabeth

Lehrer, Jonah. Imagine: how creativity works. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. Print.

Shillinglaw, S. (n.d.). The Steinbeck Institute -About John Steinbeck. The Steinbeck Institute. Retrieved September 6, 2013, from http://www.steinbeckinstitute.org/american.ht

Simonton, D. K. (2000). Creativity: Cognitive, personal, developmental, and social aspects. American psychologist55(1), 151.

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3 thoughts on “Author Study, The Creative Process

  1. I love your last paragraph and how you talked about creativity and the muse floating by flowing through you onto your paper. You’re so right. Anyone can right, and anyone can be creative, it just takes some people a little bit longer, with a little (or a lot) of brainstorming or training, like you stated. Thank you for your blog!

    • You definitely nailed it with your last paragraph. No doubt, anyone can accomplish anything with the determination to do the work. I believe we make these so called boundaries that prohibit us from reaching our own potential. Everyone can and should be intelligible writers who are comfortable with self-reflection and the spark of creativity. Sometimes, even more so than laziness, doubt and lack of confidence stops us from facing our ideas and believing that they can grow into genius!

  2. “Creativity comes from work, and every once in a while, that muse that floats by, flows through you and onto paper.”

    I completely agree with your post. It’s hard to really sit down and think about something like creativity. I for one, think it’s actually quite confusing! It’s confusing to think that everyone has the same amount or ability to be creative. I always looked at it as some part of themselves that was different and it was their “talent.” It’s kind of distressing to read some of the articles. However, I do agree with you on your point that hard work produces creativity and like you say, once in a while the must comes by to help out. I like that. It’s fun. Thanks for sharing!

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