Archives For creativity

Teaching Creativity: Born That Way or Waiting for the Muse?

If you’re not born with creativity, do you have to struggle to acquire it?

By Josephine Scicluna, Lecturer in Professional and Creative Writing at Deakin University

Recently one of my Masters students, a filmmaker from the Czech Republic, told me his friends back at home were completely baffled that he was in Australia studying creative writing. You were either creative or you were not, they told him. It wasn’t something you could be taught. Although not voiced in such an emphatic way by my undergraduate students, I’ve still encountered many who hold the suspicion that maybe it’s all just fluff.

What I’ve come to understand is that teaching creativity is not about dishing out a set of instructions how to do it, but much more about helping students to identify the kinds of situations or conditions they need for this receptiveness to occur. From there, they can learn to harness this creativity in exciting ways. But first I have to deal with the resistances.

Much of the resistance I’ve come across bears the vestiges of an 18th-century Romantic view of the artist as a genius, “a one of a kind, a great original” as Margaret Atwood describes in her book on writing, Negotiating with the Dead (2003).

You’re either born that way or not. Or, you have to wait for inspiration, divine or otherwise, to hit you from above, below or sideways. In either case, creativity appears as something outside of your control.

Misconceptions about originality are another factor in my students’ resistance and this can create a real confidence block. If they emulate others, they feel that this doesn’t count as creativity or else if they can’t think of something “completely new”, they think they can’t even begin and freeze up altogether.

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Jhumpa Lahiri Creative Process

“All writing, all art is just a wild leap off a cliff because there’s nothing to support you. You’re creating something out of nothing, really.  No one’s telling you to do it.  It comes from within, and it’s a very mysterious process, at least for me.  I still don’t understand how I write a story or a book.  I don’t understand how it happens.  I mean, I know it takes time, I know it takes effort, I know it takes lots and lots of drafts and hours, but I still really don’t understand the internal mechanism of how it really happens.”

Jhumpa Lahiri is a Pulitzer Prize-winning short story writer and novelist. Her work first appeared in The New Yorker in 1998. In the following short film produced by the iconic literary magazine, Lahiri discusses her creative process and the gratification she felt when readers around the world first responded so positively to her work.

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This beautiful video about creativity and talent comes from @RosieFrmThePast. She was inspired by a Youtube video, Thoughts on a Creative Career, posted by Ze Frank, an American performance artist, composer, humorist and public speaker.

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