By Stephen Bucaro
Before you learn how to be more creative, it's probably wise to first dispel some of
the myths about creativity. For example: Some people are more creative than others because
they favor the right side of their brain. Some people are more creative than others because
they are more educated. You can use alcohol or drugs to increase your creativity. And creativity
can be taught.
The most pervasive of these misconceptions is that each hemisphere of the brain is better
at something than the other hemisphere. It's thought that the left side of the brain is better
at analysis and math, and that the right side of the brain is better at intuition and creativity.
Further more, some people favor the right side of their brain, so they are naturally more creative
than people who favor the left side or are balanced.
This split-brain concept comes from research done by the American psycho-biologist Roger
W Sperry in the late 1960s. In 1981 Sperry was awarded the Nobel Prize for this research. But
brain-scanning experiments in the mid 1980's showed equal activity in both sides of the brain
during creative activities. By 1970, the idea of some people being more creative because they
favor the right side of their brain was considered a myth.
Another misconception is that you need to be more intelligent or highly educated to be
creative. It's true that having more education may allow a person to better understand creative
ways to solve certain problems and to know what things can be done with engineering or science.
On the other hand, having more education gives a person more knowledge of what cannot be done.
Many new inventions have been created by people who weren't smart enough to understand
the principles of engineering or science that they would need to overcome to be successful.
whereas an educated person, seeing the roadblocks ahead would decide not to attempt the development,
the lesser educated would be induced to overcome the roadblocks as they appear.
One of the most prolific inventors in history, who accumulated 2332 patents, attended
school for only a few months. The teacher told his mother that Thomas Alva Edison was too stupid
to learn. So, my conclusion is that the amount of education has little or no affect on creativity.
Another idea held by many creative artists is that the use of alcohol or drugs increases
creativity. As I've stated in previous sections, some people are less creative than others
because they have been taught to conform to social expectations and they have a fear of failure
and criticism. Alcohol or drugs produces an altered consciousness that allows ideas that would
normally be blocked to percolate up to conscious thought.
Alcohol or drugs also causes mental impairment that blocks any worries about conforming
to social expectations and any fears of failure and criticism. Both the altered consciousness
and the mental impairment can appear to increase creativity. Unfortunately, repeated use of
alcohol or drugs results in brain damage, addiction and substance abuse, after which creativity
or intelligent thought of any kind becomes reduced.
Another idea is that creativity can be taught. The fact is that we are all born creative.
What we are taught is to conform to social expectations and that failure is bad and doing so
will subject you criticism. So teaching creativity is actually unteaching social conditioning.
Creativity training teaches that it's okay to play, doing things differently is not being anti-social,
and frequent failure is a natural occurrence on the way to creative innovation.
So now that we've dispel some of the myths about creativity, lets begin taking some actions
in preparation to greatly increase our creativity.