Every act of creation is first an act of destruction. Every act of destruction is an act of creation. Or is it the other way around? It’s one of those quotes, this one attributed to Picasso, that’s easy to remember, or not. Really, it doesn’t matter which way it’s said, the provocative power remains. It really doesn’t matter who said it. And it really doesn’t matter if I’m wrong, I’m right. . .

Creativity : conventional thought believes some people have it and some don’t, period. Then some narcissistic self-help bonehead snot-nose media-moocher guru comes along to tell you, yeah you, that you are a creative genius. Bah! Only brilliant artists are creative and only a very few of them, including me, are a creative genius.

Pissed off? You better be. But don’t bugger off just yet.

Creativity isn’t a matter of having it or not. We are all born creative. It’s part of what makes us human and what allowed humans to survive. Think about it. Humans aren’t very fast nor all that strong. We aren’t particularly agile, aren’t good swimmers. and we can’t fly. Our eyesight is good, but not close to an eagle’s; our ears are okay, but nothing to write home about; and our noses, downright lousy. We have no fur to keep us warm or a tail for balance. How the hell did we ever survive to become the dominant species on the planet?

You know the answer : our brains. Our ability to communicate with language, pass on information from person to person so that we don’t have to relearn everything from scratch, and an often overlooked biggie, the ability to problem solve. We all need to solve problems everyday. It’s so automatic we don’t even notice we’re doing it. Finding solutions to our challenges is hardwired in us through millions of years of natural selection. It’s the only way humanity was able to survive along side other animals far better physically equipped.

Problem solving is a natural ability. It is the creative process. We may not all be geniuses, but we all exercise creativity through problem solving. Yet I find it hard to accept purely creative activities as problems to solve. How can the two be equal?

No artist picks up his/her tools to start a new work thinking, “This is a problem I have to solve.” There’s nothing to fix. Works of art aren’t problems, yet here’s where it gets interesting. The same neural pathways that work on problem solving are also used during the creative process. The two are synonymous in the brain. The difference is in the approach. One aims the process at a problem, the other aims the process at itself.

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