(My son, photographed by his sister in an homage to Tim Burton).
I keep coming back to Creativity because it is central to what we do as writers. It is also so hard to quantify. Like editors who, when asked what they are looking for, say 'I'll know when I see it,' Creativity is something we know when we see it.
When I read Terry Pratchett I get a buzz because his books are so wry and clever. They make me smile and they make me groan because the observations of human nature are so accurate. I could probably list a dozen reasons why his books do this, but I couldn't give you a recipe to reproduce a Terry Pratchett book. The final product is greater than the sum of its parts.
It's is like when you go to the movies to see a block buster and it leaves you unmoved. They might have ticked all the boxes, but there's no soul. You can't engage with the protagonist so the movie loses you.
Scientists have been studying creativity and intelligence, trying to understand the correlation. For instance, high IQ doesn't mean sensible. In fact it often means the opposite.
Bruce Charlton, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Medical Hypotheses says,
"...my suggested explanation for this association between intelligence and personality is that an increasing relative level of IQ brings with it a tendency differentially to over-use general intelligence in problem-solving, and to over-ride those instinctive and spontaneous forms of evolved behaviour which could be termed common sense."
For the full article go here.
According to Scientific American
"... most highly creative people are polymaths- they enjoy and excel at a range of challenging activities. For instance, in a survey of scientists at all levels of achievement, the [researchers] found that only about one sixth report engaging in a secondary activity of an artistic or creative nature, such as painting or writing non-scientific prose. In contrast, nearly all Nobel Prize winners in science have at least one other creative activity that they pursue seriously. Creative breadth, the [researchers] argue, is an important but understudied component of genius."
See here for the article.
Years ago, I read an article about a study done on school kids. They were measured for IQ and Creativity and then much later the researchers did a follow up. High IQ did not mean high job satisfaction or high earnings. But high Creativity led to a higher level of life satisfaction. Of course, being older and wise now, I have to wonder how they measured all these things.
And there is an article on biochemical support for a 'theshold' of creativity. All that primordial soup in our brains, firing off neurons and creating characterisation out of memories and instinct.
According to the scientists, Creative Types had more sex partners.
'Talk about creativity. Professional artists and poets hook up with two or three times as many sex partners as other people, new research indicates. A study of 425 British men and women found the creative types averaged between four and ten partners, while the less creative folks had typically had three.'
I'm not going to ask you guys to either confirm or deny this.
There is also a Fine Line between Creativity and Insanity (as if this is a surprise!).
'History suggests that the line between creativity and madness is a fine one, but a small group of people known as schizotypes are able to walk it with few problems and even benefit from it.'
But, for all the research I did, I couldn't really find a way to define and control creativity. You wish you could on those days when you wake up feeling 'Blah' and you need to write the first draft of your book and you have a deadline.
So how would you define creativity and how do you 'kick start' your own on 'Blah' days?