Tag Archives | Creativity

The Creative Gifts of ADHD

 Duncan Hull (CC BY 2.0)

Duncan Hull (CC BY 2.0)

via Scientific American:

“Just because a diagnosis [of ADHD] can be made does not take away from the great traits we love about Calvin and his imaginary tiger friend, Hobbes. In fact, we actually love Calvin BECAUSE of his ADHD traits. Calvin’s imagination, creativity, energy, lack of attention, and view of the world are the gifts that Mr. Watterson gave to this character.” — The Dragonfly Forest

In his 2004 book “Creativity is Forever“, Gary Davis reviewed the creativity literature from 1961 to 2003 and identified 22 reoccurring personality traits of creative people. This included 16 “positive” traits (e.g., independent, risk-taking, high energy, curiosity, humor, artistic, emotional) and 6 “negative” traits (e.g., impulsive, hyperactive, argumentative). In her own review of the creativity literature, Bonnie Cramond found that many of these same traits overlap to a substantial degree with behavioral descriptions of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)– including higher levels of spontaneous idea generation, mind wandering, daydreaming, sensation seeking, energy, and impulsivity.

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Creativity, Madness and Drugs

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via Scientific American:

Would we have Poe’s Raven today if the tormented author had taken lithium to suppress his bipolar illness? Not likely, considering the high frequency of psychiatric illnesses among writers and artists, concluded psychiatrist Kay Jamison of Johns Hopkins Medical School speaking last week at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego. Madness electrifies the creative process, Jamison concluded, but this difficult drug-use dilemma raises an even more provocative question:

Would we have Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds had the Beatles not taken LSD?

Lord Tennyson, Virginia Woolf and Vincent Van Gogh are familiar examples of artists and writers who suffered serious mental illnesses, but Jamison explained that psychiatric illness was the cruel engine of their creativity. Tracing their family pedigrees, she showed that many of these artists’ siblings, parents and descendants were institutionalized in mental hospitals, committed suicide, or endured life-long struggles with mania, despair, schizophrenia or other mental disorders.

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Isaac Asimov Asks, ‘How Do People Get New Ideas?’

Isaac.Asimov01.jpg

Isaac Asimov

MIT Technology Review has unearthed an old, previously unpublished essay on creativity by Isaac Asimov. Here’s the beginning:

ON CREATIVITY

How do people get new ideas?

Presumably, the process of creativity, whatever it is, is essentially the same in all its branches and varieties, so that the evolution of a new art form, a new gadget, a new scientific principle, all involve common factors. We are most interested in the “creation” of a new scientific principle or a new application of an old one, but we can be general here.

One way of investigating the problem is to consider the great ideas of the past and see just how they were generated. Unfortunately, the method of generation is never clear even to the “generators” themselves.

But what if the same earth-shaking idea occurred to two men, simultaneously and independently? Perhaps, the common factors involved would be illuminating. Consider the theory of evolution by natural selection, independently created by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace.

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“Do What You Love” is Terrible Advice for Creative People

Artist at Work 2 by enjosmith via Flickr. CC by 2.0

Artist at Work 2 by enjosmith via Flickr. CC by 2.0

I’m curious to see what everyone here thinks about this.

via Medium:

Is there a more common piece of career advice today than “do what you love?” I’ve heard it for ages. I certainly think that being in a bad job can be soul-crushing experience, and that liking your work lightens your life considerably.

But in the course of studying the lives of creative people, I’ve come to the ironic conclusion that for writers, artists, and just about everyone, “do what you love” is actually terrible advice.

Here’s what’s wrong with it: it’s unnecessary.

The problem with the “do what you love” mantra is in how we follow it, which is with a single-mindedness that carries unnecessary risk. We interpret “do what you love” to mean “Do only what you love and nothing else,” and the implication of that is that if you don’t practice this kind of creative monogamy, you’re being untrue to yourself.

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Writing Is a Risky, Humiliating Endeavor

A Stipula fountain pen lying on a written piece of paper. By Antonio Litterio via Wikimedia Commons.

A Stipula fountain pen lying on a written piece of paper. By Antonio Litterio via Wikimedia Commons.

I follow the New York Times Opinionator on my Feedly account and this popped up the other day. I thought some of you artist/writer types might find it interesting.

via The New York Times (Please follow the link to read the entire piece):

This essay was born when my ex-wife unfriended me on Facebook. She was angry over my last novel, though to my mind, the resemblances to her and me were superficial. The story — which involves kidnapping, murder, private eyes — was clearly not “about” us. I was shocked and saddened — I’d hoped she would like the book — but this was not the first time I’d had this sort of experience.

My mom had more or less taken ownership of the “Mom” in my first novel, who shared a few of her characteristics, like red hair and a habit of sending notes — but who had some key differences too, like being dead.

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Communing with the Muse, Letting History be its Sexy Self and Coping with Tragedy. With Philosopher, Author and Top-Notch Human, Daniele Bolelli

Via Midwest Real
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Daniele Bolelli“Once you lose attachment to how you want things to be because you realize you don’t control anything, there’s a curiously liberating aspect of that. I’ve always been a control freak, I’ve always felt that if I try hard enough, everyone I love will be kept safe and everything will be okay. Being shown, in such brutal terms, that that’s simply not the way it works, in someways, it messed me up.  I’ve been through hell, but on another level, if you pile up so much tragedy, it either destroys you, or you just start laughing about it. Because at the end of the day, no one gets out alive.” Daniele Bolelli

When a certain type of person achieves monetary success and notoriety, one of their first moves is to cultivate some sort of bullshit persona.  I’m talking a VIP, tinted window, sunglasses on indoors set of behaviors.  What exactly is that?  I’ll tell you, it’s fear.… Read the rest

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Electrode-Wearing Writer May Reveal Neurological Roots of Creativity

Picture: Michael Neagle (C)

Picture: Michael Neagle (C)

Dutch novelist Arnon Grunberg is participating in a neuroscience experiment that will shed some light on how art is created and experienced:

New York Times:

Over the past two weeks, Mr. Grunberg has spent several hours a day writing his novella, while a battery of sensors and cameras tracked his brain waves, heart rate, galvanic skin response (an electrical measure of emotional arousal) and facial expressions. Next fall, when the book is published, some 50 ordinary people in the Netherlands will read it under similarly controlled circumstances, sensors and all.

Researchers will then crunch the data in the hope of finding patterns that may help illuminate links between the way art is created and enjoyed, and possibly the nature of creativity itself.

“Will readers of Arnon’s text feel they understand or embody the same emotions he had while he was writing it, or is reading a completely different process?” said Ysbrand van der Werf, a researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience and the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, who designed the experiment with Jan van Erp of the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research.

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There is No Such Thing as An Original Idea

big-mickDavid Lose writes:

Creativity is all the rage these days: what it is, how you develop it, the various ways in which you express it. A slew of bestselling books, including my favorite Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer, offers insight into the nature, origin and application of our fundamental, foundational, and phenomenal ability to engage in creative acts.

While the approaches and analyses differ somewhat at various points, one of the major points of convergence revolves around destroying the myth of the “solitary genius.” Creativity doesn’t, in other words, happen in a vacuum – creative ideas are always inspired, nurtured, cajoled, and spurred forward by other ideas. Which means that creative people are always drawing on the work of others, consciously or unconsciously.

Mark Twain said much the same in a letter to Helen Keller, reflecting on an incident years earlier when she had been charged – and acquitted – of plagiarism:

Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that ‘plagiarism’ farce!

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Patti Smith’s Advice to Creative Youth

The ‘kernel of wisdom’ type speeches are usually a dime a dozen, but this one really hits the nail on the head. Everyone’s a poet, a musician, a painter in college. Those that are still at it a decade later may not necessarily be more talented than the ones that gave it up, or made a hobby out of it. No. They’re the ones that are hooked. Also, was there any irony in Burroughs suggesting to keep your name “clean”?

From Laughing Squid:

“You don’t do your work and say ‘I only want the cool people to read it’…”

In August 2012, punk’s grand dame Patti Smith was interviewed at the Louisiana Literature festival and doled out some fantastic advice to young creative people (truly it’s an inspiring listen for all creative types).

Video.

Patti Smith: Advice to the young from Louisiana Channel on Vimeo.

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Peter Bebergal Interviews Alan Moore on Creativity, Magic and More

2158181-alan_mooreToo Much to Dream author Peter Bebergal recently interviewed legendary comic book author and practicing magician Alan Moore for The Believer magazine. I think that disinfonauts will find it an entertaining read.

The Believer:

BLVR: Where do you think human consciousness fits into that? Is it somehow separate from it?

AM: If time is an illusion, then all movement and change are also illusions. So the only thing that gives us the illusion of movement and change and events and time is the fact that our consciousness is moving through this mass along the time axis. If you imagine it as a strip of celluloid, each of those individual cells is motionless. If they each represent a moment, they’re unchanging. They’re not going anywhere, but as the projector beam of our consciousness passes across them, it provides the illusion of movement, and narrative and cause and effect and circumstances.

BLVR: You also believe that we can change the aperture of that projector through various processes like magic, or other ways of shaping consciousness.

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