Where Does Creativity Come From?
Count me as skeptical. But skeptical of what is something I’m not really sure about. Where does creativity come from? I have no idea, except I know that it comes from me. I guess maybe it comes from the universe, or the Universe, whichever you feel better about. Or maybe it comes from within. Or maybe it’s put there, inside of me, but count me as skeptical.
Who Should Take the Credit?
Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame says that it comes from some other world, and that’s not a new concept. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is an excellent creativity book. I don’t subscribe to the “it comes from God” pamphlet, but The Artist’s Way is much more than just that. Cameron simply uses this as a platform to talk about her techniques, which actually work quite well – especially for writers. In fact, she even tells you that you can disregard this idea that creativity comes from God and use her techniques separately. But in the video linked below, Gilbert says that maybe we should think about creativity coming from an unknown source (read: God) because it’s too much pressure to handle when we do something great. Yes, many great artists have taken their own lives – either via the bullet or the bottle, or some other such method – and they’ve done this exactly because of this reason; that they can’t handle the creativity. She might be right about that, which again comes from an idea that’s nothing new – that we can’t be the creators of our creations. But I’m skeptical.
Everything I’ve created comes from somewhere. As I think about it, I know it comes from me. To go a step further, anyone who claims creativity comes from somewhere else is a coward. I’m wary of accusing everyone who believes this because some people don’t care where creativity comes from. They simply produce and that’s it, and they accept that they aren’t the original creator is a possibility because, again, they don’t care. But for those others then it is cowardly to blame and give credit to someone(thing) else. Why can’t I be the one creating? Why is it that the idea must come from some place else? If I fail then I take the blame. If I succeed then I get the credit, even if I don’t know how to handle it. In the end, it’s mine and I must face whatever consequences that are suddenly thrust in front of me. If I create something that strikes a chord then it isn’t a fluke – it’s just that I created it and someone liked it enough and off it went. And if I can’t handle the success then that’s on me, too. If I choose to blow my brains out then that’s on me. And if I decide to cut an ear off, or shoot too much cocaine, or jump off a cliff, or stand and be happy in front of my paintings at a museum and tell my grandkids about it when I’m in my 90s – that’s all on me, too. I decide, and if I decide then I create. And if I create, then I live with it. It’s mine, and I’m happy to live with that.
Gilbert’s video appears on NPR and is a part of the Ted Talks series: Your Elusive Creative Genius