Telling ourselves stories

By definition, creativity is required to make art. To write something interesting needs a creative process behind it. This fact has led to some of the most seductive thinking of the modern era. Specifically, we tell ourselves stories that not everyone is able to be creative, therefore not everyone is able to make art. Many believe that the artist’s life is only available to a select few, that the left brain needs to over-rule the right for optimal creative conditions. The story bends even further. Even when optimal conditions are met and a person is ‘an artist’, their output can be slowed by external factors too – writer’s block sets in.

We would have ourselves believe that most, if not all of the creative process is out of our control. As I have written before, I don’t believe this at all. Unfortunately life is not so simple. Although creativity shows up in the brain in certain ways, “contrary to the “left-brain, right-brain” myth, creativity doesn’t just involve a single brain region or even a single side of the brain. Instead, the creative process draws on the whole brain. It’s a dynamic interplay of many different brain regions, emotions, and our unconscious and conscious processing systems”(quoted from an interesting article on the brain and creativity which can be found here).

Rather than the ‘artist’s life’ only being available to a select few, the truth is that we decide our fate. And how do we do that? Why, with our memories of course.

Events in our lives are either held onto as memories which become narratives affecting our behaviour, or they are forgotten.

For a crude example: Twin girls are told to write a story for homework. The one gets frustrated during the writing and gets a bad mark. She decides she is never going to try hard to write again. She blocks it from her brain. The other also gets frustrated and gets a bad mark, but decides she is creative and will find a way to improve the mark next time. These decisions lead to chains of other decisions which reinforce our own narratives. From that moment on the first girl focusses on science, the other on literature. Two different lives are born.

The kicker in all of this is that you can decide which memories to hold on to and which to let go of. Which memories will become a narrative and which fade to black? You can tell yourself a different story and you can become more creative.