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Wired To Create

Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

By Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyn Gregoire
18-minute read
Audio available
Wired To Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyn Gregoire

Wired to Create (2015) attempts to make sense of that elusive human trait, creativity. It traces recent discoveries in neuroscience and psychology by exploring the habits and practices of highly creative people. The “messy minds” and contradictory traits of creative achievers reveal the importance of habits such as imaginative play and daydreaming, passion and intuition or openness and sensitivity, all of which have been central to great art and innovation throughout human history.

  • Anyone who wants to increase creative expression in their life and work
  • People curious about how creative minds function
  • Artists or innovators seeking inspiration for their own processes

Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD, is a scientist and writer, as well as the director of the Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written or coauthored seven books on the topics of creativity and intelligence.

Carolyn Gregoire is a writer who specializes in neuroscience, psychology and spirituality. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Scientific American, Time magazine and the New Republic.

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Wired To Create

Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

By Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyn Gregoire
  • Read in 18 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 11 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Wired To Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyn Gregoire
Synopsis

Wired to Create (2015) attempts to make sense of that elusive human trait, creativity. It traces recent discoveries in neuroscience and psychology by exploring the habits and practices of highly creative people. The “messy minds” and contradictory traits of creative achievers reveal the importance of habits such as imaginative play and daydreaming, passion and intuition or openness and sensitivity, all of which have been central to great art and innovation throughout human history.

Key idea 1 of 11

The “messy minds” of creative people embrace contradictions.

Boldness is fascinating. Whether it’s an iconoclast like Kurt Cobain or an innovator like Steve Jobs, we’re drawn to people who break, or remake, the rules. But what exactly is it that makes these mavericks so magnetic?

Well, there is no one thing that accounts for a creative mind.

In the 1960s, psychologist Frank X. Barron studied a number of famous creatives and concluded that successful creativity had no single source.

Previously, there was thought to be a causal relationship between IQ and creativity, but Barron’s findings showed that brainpower is but one contributing factor among many.

Furthermore, creative minds are often paradoxical. A group of writers, for instance, measured above average on tests for psychopathology and mental illness; however, their overall mental health was also above average.

This mental collage of paradoxes and contradictions – the “messiness” of the creative mind – is reflected in the unstructured, “messy” work habits of creative people.

When working on Guernica, one of his many masterpieces, the painter Pablo Picasso followed no clear plan. He improvised, revising and rethinking as he went, and “wasting” a great deal of effort along the way. Some of his initial sketches appear in the finished painting; others were reworked over and over, only to be discarded entirely.

Instead of making a schedule and sticking to a plan, creative people seem to follow the plan imposed on them by their work. As psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi notes, creatives aren’t led by a rigid structure, but rather obey the demands of the work in their chosen field, and how they interact with it.

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