Shhhhhhhhhh! Does solitude enhance creativity?

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, argues in a recent article in The New York Times that creativity is best practiced by the solitary individual. Hardly, says Keith Sawyer, author of Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration. In a recent blog post he retorts that Cain’s thesis is “the frustrated cry of a true introvert.”  Says Sawyer, “Some people, [Cain] included, just want to be left alone. And, she argues, those are the people who really come up with all of the great ideas.”

Lending her voice in support of Sawyer, Gwen Lowenheim — who leads the Institute’s popular online course, Creating the World:  How to Foster Creative Community — points to the philosophical muddle at the heart of Cain’s ode to solitude, namely, the false dichotomy between the solitary and the social/relational:

Gwen Lowenheim

No better way to put a damper on creativity than to impose either/or thinking and then suggest that we find ways to connect the two falsely dichotomized elements of complex and rich human life [solitary v. social]… let’s take another look at what is meant by “solitude.” Keith describes it well – he spends many hours alone in his office writing but doesn’t conclude that he is not collaborating during those alone times….What about our language, the concept of creativity, the desk you are writing on and the computer!  Human beings are social and historical, even when no one is talking to us.  READ MORE

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About Janet Wootten

Janet Wootten is a media and public relations professional, a member of the Institute’s Board of Directors and a leader of its annual community fundraising campaign.
This entry was posted in creativity and play, Gwen Lowenheim, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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