Can Creativity Be Taught?
We'll probably never have a concrete answer to this age-old question. Try as we might, myriad online tests attempt to help us discern how creative we are. For those who score high on these tests, that's great. But what about those of us who feel we could use an extra boost of creative energy? Is it possible to be taught creativity?
Answering this question may prove easier if we first acknowledge some universal truths about creativity.
Truth #1: Creativity takes work
There is a notion circulating that creative genius is innate, perhaps somehow even tied to our genetic makeup. Thomas Edison didn't wake up one day with the incandescent light bulb prototype etched into his mind. He worked countless hours at solving the problem of how to build it. Bestselling novelist Stephen King treats his writing like a 9-5 job and works at it daily. The creative muse tends to alight on those who regularly put in the time and the energy.
Truth #2: Creativity takes breaks
Everyone has sat frustrated before a problem, unable to readily discover a solution, even after a long time spent hacking away at it. The best thing to do in this case is something else. Listen to music, take a walk, have coffee with a friend. Oftentimes stepping away from a problem can be just as effective as stepping up to it.
Truth #3: Creativity is full of trial and error
Creative people admit their failures and aren't afraid to throw ideas out the window if they're not working or coming to fruition. Tossing out rough drafts of a screenplay or admitting when a dish you've cooked tastes terrible are both productive efforts toward creating something worthwhile in the future. Don't get bent out of shape about failure: it helps you recognise success.
Truth #4: Creativity celebrates its successes
On the flip side, creative people key into their intuition and aren't afraid to acknowledge when something is good or worth holding onto. Recognisng when you've latched onto an idea with steam and forging ahead with it is remarkable. Sharing your successes with others is one of the best things about creative work.
So, can creativity be taught?
Remember: everybody is at least somewhat creative. No one person should think they are utterly devoid of creative energy. Give yourself a little credit, and don't think that if you're not painting watercolors regularly, you're not creative.
Try to discover how you best create. Find your ideal environment, and commit to routinely practicing what it is you love to do. Stop worrying about how creative you are, and spend more time thinking about what it is you want to create.