Creativity Is a Process, Not an Event

Creativity Is a Process, Not an Event

One of history’s most prominent scientists was wandering through a garden in 1666 when he experienced a moment of inspiration that would forever alter the course of human history.

Sir Isaac Newton observed an apple fall to the ground while standing beneath an apple tree. Newton questioned why the fruit should always fall perpendicular to the ground. Why shouldn’t it move above, or sideways, but always toward the centre of the earth? The earth attracts it, of course, is the explanation. A matter must possess a drawing power. Thus, the idea of gravity was created.

The tale of the falling apple is one of the most famous and enduring depictions of a creative moment. It is a representation of the inspired genius that floods your mind during those «eureka moments» when the circumstances are ideal for inspiration. The majority of people overlook the fact that Newton spent over twenty years developing his theories on gravity before publishing The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy in 1687. The incident with the fallen apple just marked the start of a long train of contemplation.

Not only did Newton struggle with a brilliant concept for years. For all of us, being creative is a process.

Creative Thinking: Destiny or Development?

Our ability to think creatively depends on our ability to link seemingly unconnected thoughts. Do we acquire this talent naturally or do we have to work at it? Let’s examine the research to find a solution.

98 per cent of the 1,600 five-year-olds who participated in a study on creative performance done in the 1960s by George Land scored in the «very creative» level. Dr. Land retested each participant after five years. Only 30% of the same youngsters scored in the extremely creative category when they were 10 years old. By the time they reached the ages of 15 and 25, just 12% and 2%, respectively, remained.

Other studies have found similar patterns. For instance, a survey of 272,599 pupils discovered that while IQ levels have increased since 1990, scores for innovative thinking have fallen.

This does not imply that creativity can be taught in its entirety. Genetics do have an impact. Professor of psychology Barbara Kerr estimates that genes account for around 22% of the variable in creative ability. By examining the variations in creative thinking across sets of twins, this discovery was made.

All of this is to indicate that using the justification «I’m just not the creative type» is a very lame way to avoid thinking creatively. Undoubtedly, some people are more creatively inclined than others. Most of our creative thinking skills can be learned, and almost everyone is born with some amount of creativity.

Let’s analyze why exercising and learning have a consequence on your creative output now that we are knowledgeable that creativity is a capability that can be enhanced.

Intelligence and Creative Thinking

What are the requirements for releasing your creative potential

As I indicated in my post on the Threshold Theory, being incredibly creative does not always correlate with being among the top 1% of intelligent people. Instead, all you need to do is be intelligent (not brilliant), work hard, intentionally practise, and complete your reps.

As long as you have a certain level of intelligence, you can produce outstanding creative work. «We discovered evidence that after the intellectual threshold is met, personality variables become more predictive for creativity,» stated the researchers of a 2013 study.

Not an event, but a process, is creativity. Not simply a eureka moment, either. You need to overcome emotional and mental obstacles. You must make a conscious effort to practise your skill. And it takes persistence to watch your creative brilliance blossom—possibly years or even generations, like Newton did.

Katia Evangelidou, A2


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