Reactor

New Book to Explore the Science and Benefits of Creative Ruts

by An Xiao on March 28, 2012

A screenshot from Flash Rosenberg's trailer for Jonah Lehrer's new book on creativity.

LOS ANGELES — As a creative person, I’ve been looking forward to taking some time to read Jonah Lehrer’s new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works. Lehrer, a prolific and popular writer bridging science, the arts and the rest of us, has set out with this book to explore “the new science of creativity.” The book’s description online is juicy enough:

Shattering the myth of muses, higher powers, even creative “types,” Jonah Lehrer demonstrates that creativity is not a single “gift” possessed by the lucky few. It’s a variety of distinct thought processes that we can all learn to use more effectively.

I’ve not gotten my hands on the book, but I did see one of the trailers, put together by animator Flash Rosenberg. I’ve not read the book, but the trailer certainly presents a powerful thesis, asking us to embrace the creative rut, not run from it, declaring, simply, that:

“The act of feeling frustrated is an essential part of the creative process.”

It gets me thinking about the creative process road map, which I reviewed earlier, and all its windy routes to that ultimate breakthrough. And a recent post on Gizmodo, looking at how a lack of productivity actually leads to a breakthrough:

… [Researchers] asked participants a mixture of analytic and insight questions. The analytic questions required laborious, tedious working to establish an answer; the insight questions required a flash of inspiration to crack. The result? Insight questions were completed more effectively when participants were stuck in a circadian rhythm rut.

Maybe there is something to the stereotype of the angsty artist, alone at his/her studio or wandering the empty streets, trying to find an answer. Creativity is birthed, perhaps, from this turmoil, like the globby, salmonella-heavy batter than eventually produces a cake.

  • Subscribe to the Hyperallergic newsletter!

Hyperallergic welcomes comments and a lively discussion, but comments are moderated after being posted. For more details please read our comment policy.
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michele-Fraichard/100000689642505 Michele Fraichard

    LOVE that someone has put this into words, as I’ve always suspected it…gotta get my hands on this book!

Previous post:

Next post: