Common Myths About Creativity

I forget everything, everything except how things used to be’ … Out for Christmas Trees. Photograph: © Grandma Moses Properties Co, New York/Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Kallir Family in honour of Hildegard Bachert

I believe we can all agree that creativity is an essential human trait and a fundamental aspect of human experience. Yet there are various myths and misconceptions surrounding it, so let me address 5 of the most commonly believed and persuasive ones, hopefully to shake up the stereotyped thinking pattern.

Myth #1

Creativity is innate.

This has got to be one of the most popular myths about creativity. It is generally believed that creativity is a talent that some people are born with and others are not, which is partially true. But creativity is not purely and solely innate, it’s a skill that can be learned, developed and improved over time. And scientific reasoning behind it is neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to change and adapt in response to experience and learning. 

When people engage in any creative activities, such as drawing, sculpting, writing, reading, listening to new music and so on, the brain creates new neural pathways, strengthening existing connections. And, this process leads to improved creativity and creative mode of thinking.

Myth #2

The creatives are always artists or writers. (and I was guilty of this belief as well)

Creativity is massively stereotyped as an artistic or literary endeavour, but it’s actually more applied to a wide range of other disciplines and industries than just the creative one. 

For example, in business, creativity is essential for problem-solving, innovation, and entrepreneurship. You need to be a creative thinker to come up with new products, services, or fun marketing strategies that can set your business apart from the competitors. 

In science, creativity is critical. Scientists need to develop new hypotheses, design experiments, and implement them, which quite literally brings forth new discoveries and advancements in any field of science, whether it’s medicine, engineering, technology. The patterns and pathways of creativity in science and any other discipline are the same. 

Myth #3

Creativity is spontaneous.

It’s an “a-ha” moment of epiphany or strike of inspiration, where a sudden idea or insight just comes out of nowhere, and shower is probably the most stereotypical place for creativity to hit. The truth is that creative ideas are almost never the result of a single moment of genius or epiphany, but a long process of deliberation, learning, pondering, maybe brainstorming, experimentation, exposure of new information, to put it briefly – various brain stimuli.

The reason why ideas may come in a shower is due to the relaxed and open mindset state of your body that helps your brain make unexpected connections between seemingly diverse pieces of information. 

Myth #4

Creativity is only for the young. 

It is a common myth that creativity generally declines as you get older. Several research, however, have proved that this is not necessarily the case. In fact, older adults have more experience and knowledge to draw on, which can lead to more creative thought and innovative solutions. And, in fact, some of the most innovative and creative individuals throughout history have been older adults. Michelangelo completed the Sistine Chapel ceiling in his 60s and 70s. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Guggenheim Museum, in his 80s. And the list goes on. 

Myth #5

Creativity is a luxury.

And only accessible to those who have a lot of free time, maybe even more resources and don’t have major life issues to worry about and can afford being creative. The truth is, creativity is a mindset, a way of living, viewing and experiencing life. My father used to always say, you don’t do it for any reason, you do it, because you can’t help it. So if you want to practice creativity with mindset, all you need is a pen and paper for writing, drawing, doodling, if you want to make music, you can use simple instruments, even just your voice or the sounds of nature and mundane life. If you want to practice photography, your smartphone is more than enough. 

Frida Kahlo painted some of her most famous works while in pain and in bed, Maya Angelou wrote many of her acclaimed works while working full-time jobs and raising her children as a single mom. And this sounds like limited resources and significant life challenges to me. 

Creativity is not only not a luxury, but it’s a basic human necessity. Regardless of what you’ll decide you practice, you’re guaranteed to experience life anew, if you approach it with a creative mindset.