Tag Archives: practice

Creativity – Nature or Nurture?

 

When you are involved with a creative hobby or business, you will often have people tell you that they couldn’t do what you do because they don’t have the ability. We often perceive creativity as an innate skill that we are either born with or not. And while some skills or talents do seem to come from a natural ability, much more are as a result of training, learning and practice. So is creativity due to nature or nurture?

 

Wiring in the brain

There have been studies conducted on the subject to try and quantify what makes someone more creative than others and results are unsurprisingly varied. For example, writers, artists and musicians were found in some studies have a smaller corpus callosum – this is the fibres that join the two parts of the brain. This allows each side of their brain to develop more specialisation and could lead to a greater innate creativity.

Creativity may even have a genetic basis. A study by the University of Helsinki looked at a person’s musical creativity based on ability to judge pitch and time as well as composition, improvisation and arrangement skills. In their results, they discovered that one cluster of genes seems to correlate with musical creativity and is the same cluster associated with the plasticity of the brain. In other words, its ability to reorganise itself to make and break new connections between cells.

 

The part of inspiration

Another factor to consider with the question of creativity is that of inspiration. The classic example is that of author Mary Shelley. Back in 1816, she awoke from a vivid dream where she saw a ‘pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together’. Unsurprisingly, this touch of inspiration led to the novel Frankenstein.

But interestingly are the surrounding factors at the time. She was sharing her home with a group who spent time chatting about ghost stories and electrical experiments while also spending time with established authors. And at that particular time, there were intense electrical storms. Shelley had little writing experience before the novel so did inspiration led to creativity or did her surroundings lead to the inspiration that led to the novel?

 

The argument for nurture

For many people, creativity comes through education, practise and repetition. You learn to paint because you take up the paints every day and work on what you can do. Over time, you get better, you learn what you like and one day you are an artist, exhibiting in a gallery. You may have been born with that artistic ability but without the work and education that goes into it, you would never have become an artist.

On the other hand, if you believe you aren’t creative and because of this, you never try to paint or begin to learn how to work with canvas, then you won’t ever become an artist. Not because you don’t have the ability necessarily, but simply because you have told yourself you aren’t creative and therefore your ability is never developed. Perhaps, deep down, we are all creative if we take steps to find what we can be creative with?