Thursday, July 2, 2009

A New Way to Think about Creativity

A friend sent me a link to this wonderful 19-minute talk on creativity by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best-selling memoir Eat, Pray, Love:

In it, Gilbert talks about the creative pressure on her to reproduce the success of Eat, Pray, Love, as friends keep asking her whether she is falling apart from the stress of wondering if the greatest moment of her creative life is behind her. Gilbert responds by asking why artists seem to face this kind of anxiety, when chemical engineers, for example, do not: “Why are we supposed to be afraid of the work we were placed on this earth to do?”
According to Gilbert, we need to return to the ancient view of creativity as the gift of a godlike spirit, or daemon, rather than the post-Renaissance view of creativity as located completely within the lone individual. If we think of creativity as coming from “some distant and unknowable source for distant and unknowable reasons,” we can accept that our creative accomplishments are not entirely up to us. Our task is only to show up for our part of the job; the creative daemon has to show up for his part of the job, as well. We can’t know if the gods will be with us as we do our dance – but, Gilbert tells, us, “Do your dance anyhow.”

Have you done your dance today?

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