Superb Ways to be Creative
Creativity can be either emotionally or cognitively based, and it can also be spontaneous or deliberate.
Deliberate and Cognitive Creativity
Deliberate and cognitive creativity is the kind that comes from sustained work in a discipline. For example, Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light bulb as we know it, was a deliberate and cognitive creator.
He ran experiment after experiment before he came up with an invention. In addition to the light bulb, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and the motion picture camera. He held 1093 US patents, and more in Europe and the UK.
For deliberate, cognitive creativity to occur, you need to have a preexisting body of knowledge about one or more particular topics. When you’re being deliberatively and cognitively creative, you are putting together existing information in new and novel ways.
Deliberate and Emotional Creativity
That is the deliberate part. But instead of focusing attention on a particular area of knowledge or expertise, people who are engaging in deliberate, emotional creativity have a-ha moments having to do with feelings and emotions. The cingulate cortex is the part of the brain that processes complex feelings that are related to how you interact with others and your place in the world. And the cingulated cortex is connected to the PFC. These two brain areas are active with this type of creativity.
Spontaneous and Cognitive Creativity
Spontaneous and cognitive creativity involves the basal ganglia of the brain. This is where dopamine is stored, and it is a part of the brain that operates outside your conscious awareness.
During spontaneous and cognitive creativity, the conscious brain stops working on the problem, and this gives the unconscious part of the brain a chance to work on it instead. If a problem requires “out of the box” thinking, then you need to remove it temporarily from conscious awareness.
By doing a different, unrelated activity, the prefrontal cortex is able to connect information in new ways via your unconscious mental processing.
The story about Isaac Newton thinking of gravity while watching a falling apple is an example of spontaneous and cognitive creativity. Notice that this type of creativity does require an existing body of knowledge. That is the cognitive part.
Spontaneous and Emotional Creativity
Spontaneous and emotional creativity comes from the amygdala. The amygdala is where basic emotions are processed. When the conscious brain and the prefrontal cortex are at rest, spontaneous ideas and creations can emerge.
This is the kind of creativity that great artists and musicians possess. Often these kinds of spontaneous and emotional creative moments are quite powerful, such as in an epiphany or a religious experience.
There is not specific knowledge necessary (it’s not cognitive) for this type of creativity, but there is often skill (writing, artistic, musical) needed to create something from the spontaneous and emotional creative idea.