As I’ve studied Creativity over the past ten years, I’ve learned many things that surprised me. Each day for a week, I’m debunking one “Creativity myth” that I believed before I started studying in earnest.Yesterday I wrote about Myth No. 2: Creativity is Spontaneous Inspiration.
Often stereotyped as rebellious and independent, highly creative people must, in reality, internalize a domain of culture. Creativity Scholar Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says:
A person must believe in the importance of such a domain in order to learn its rules; hence he or she must be to a certain extent a traditionalist.
Adding to a domain first requires 10,000 hours within it. Constantly rebelling against conventions, to be different, has little to do with Creativity. Artist Eva Zeisel says:
Wanting to be different can’t motivate your work…being different is a negative motive, and no creative thought or created thing grows out of a negative impulse.
Deep knowledge of conventions are crucial because Creation never occurs in a vacuum, but within an environment, a cultural context. The new is built upon the old. Creativity Scholar Mel Rhodes says:
History proves that great inventions are never, and great discoveries seldom, the work of any one mind. Every great invention is either an aggregate of minor inventions or the final step of the progression.
But a willingness to take risks and part with tradition must be part of the Creative process as well. Csikszentmihalyi says,
So it is difficult to see how a person can be Creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic. Being only traditional leaves the domain unchanged; constantly taking chances without regard to what has been valued in the past rarely leads to novelty that is accepted as an improvement.
Creators are portrayed as rebellious, but rebelliousness is not their goal, Creation is.