A New Way To Think About Creativity

This is one of my favorite TED talks. Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) talks about creativity and creative genius. She reminds us of the many impossible things we expect from artists.

The ancient Greeks and Romans did not believe creativity came from human beings. Creativity was considered something spiritual, and creative ideas came to human beings through divine attendant spirits. But the times changed. And so did people’s views on creativity. Instead of believing in all of us “having” a genius, we adopted the idea of a (rare) person “being” a creative genius.

And I got to tell you, I think that was a huge error. You know, I think that allowing somebody, one mere person to believe that he or she is like, the vessel, you know, like the font and the essence and the source of all divine, creative, unknowable, eternal mystery is just a smidge too much responsibility to put on one fragile, human psyche. It’s like asking somebody to swallow the sun. It just completely warps and distorts egos, and it creates all these unmanageable expectations about performance. And I think the pressure of that has been killing off our artists for the last 500 years.

– Elizabeth Gilbert in her TED talk on creativity

 

 

Gilbert’s talk is funny and inspiring, and it reminds us about the importance of showing up at the page and doing our creative work no matter what. Because then at least you did your part of the job.

 

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