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A friend of mine, Graham Marks, recently told me about these TED lectures that someone sent him the link to and how interesting some of them are. We were speaking about writing and creativity and interesting subjects and research and such.  I watched a few since then and they are genuinely interesting.  Randomly I followed a link someone tweeted this morning and have subsequently claimed it as a discovery to share with you.

The chap doing the talk is Rex Jung.  Here is a bit of blurb about him:

Rex Jung explains how creativity works in the brain.

A leading scientist in the emerging field of positive neuroscience — the study of what the brain does well.  As an Assistant Professor at the UNM Health Sciences Center Department of Neurosurgery, his groundbreaking research led to the first model describing a network of brain regions critically linked together in service of intellectual pursuits. Over the last several years, he has turned his attention to the manifestation of creativity in the brain — a cognitive capacity perhaps critically dependent upon, yet distinctly different from intelligence.  The author of over 40 scientific publications, his research has been widely featured in popular media outlets including CNN,BBC, Psychology Today, New Scientist, The New York Times, and Newsweek. His work is based on patients diagnosed with brain disease and disorder and is enhanced by a research perspective grounded in both neurological disorder and “what the brain does well.”

And I found it utterly fascinating – he debunks these untruths we hear about creativity:

  • you have to be a genius to be creative
  • the notion that you have to be mentally ill to be creative
  • the whole left brain / right brain thing (watch the video)

And he tells some trueisms but one that struck me the most is: creative people have a lot of creative ideas.  He uses Picasso as an example, explaining that the creative person has to have so many creative ideas in order to get the dud ideas out.  How not everything will be amazingbut that creativity is a process and how creative people are constantly trying out new things, to see what works for them. And how important that is but then he counters this with the author of To Kill a Mockinbird, how this solo piece of work is so incredible and iconic, and that it burst onto the scene back in the day, and it still remains as one of the most powerful modern novels ever written.  This, he says, is the exception to the rule.

On twitter and in my conversations with writerly friends I often see and hear this:

“I have so many ideas!”

“I have no ideas!”

“I will never have any ideas ever again!”

“How do I choose??”

And from now on, I’ll point them to Mr. Jung’s video on creativity and I think there will be many heaved sighs of relief.

Rex Jung – Creativity and the Brain

One thought on “Creativity

  1. Couldn’t agree more.

    I’m a creative and my job is just to come up with ideas all day.

    And you really do need to go through the s**t to get to the good stuff and I am by no means a genius!

    You can go days not having a single good idea and then just hits you in the back of the head.

    Having ideas is also about practise, I have a notebook that i’m constantly writing in, anything vaguely interesting I write down.

    TED Talks are brilliant and that talk in particular is amazing 🙂


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