Creativity: Nature or nurture

Diana M. RaabDiana M. Raab, MFA, RN is the editor of Writers and Their Notebooks, a collection of essays by distinguished writers who journal, including Sue Grafton, Kim Stafford, Dorianne Laux, John DuFresne, James Brown and Michael Steinberg, to name a few. We recently read, enjoyed, and revisited it. She is also the author of the critically-acclaimed memoir Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal. Her second memoir, Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey is a self-help book that also offers journaling exercises for other survivors. The publication date is June, 2010 by Loving Healing Press.

Diana’s work has been published in numerous literary magazines and is widely anthologized. She has one poetry book, My Muse Undresses Me, and two poetry collections, Dear Anais: My Life in Poems For You, the winner of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Award for Poetry, and the newly-released The Guilt Gene.
Here’s Diana’s essay:
Creativity: Nature or Nurture
To be human is to be creative. To create is to live. The creative self is the essential self and the creative process is a like a journey – it is intuitive and experimental. Living creatively means being tuned into all of your senses and being aware of what’s going on. It means valuing your experiences. Creativity might entail expressing yourself thorough art, but it can also be a way of living that is open, eager, curious and uplifting.
At an early age, my parents nurtured my creative energy by giving me journals and coloring books. In fact, my mother gave me my first journal to help me cope with the loss of my beloved grandmother. Little did she know that seemingly benign gesture became the platform for my life as a writer.
Creativity is an expression of intuition. The more intuitive we are the more in touch we are with the natural flow of life. “The act of creation begins with the need to express oneself,” says John Daido Loori in his book, The Zen of Creativity.
So, is it true that some people are more creative than others? This gets down to the age-old question of nature vs. nurture. I believe that if you were born creative, but not inspired, then you might not be able to manifest your talents. I believe that the U.S. education system is not designed to promote creativity, but it does encourage students to “think outside of the box” by offering fine art classes. Yet, these classes are often quite structured and might not produce the best results in terms of freedom of expression. It has been said that children are creative until they start school, when much of their creativity gets crushed.

To be creative, the mind must be stimulated. Once stimulated, it is easier to continue to be inspired. When we are captured by something, our momentum is boosted and things can take off, especially if we have unstructured environments in which to enjoy the process.
To encourage your own creativity you should keep doing whatever creative things you already do, whether it’s art, writing, or dancing. To help foster your creativity you can also start keeping a creative journal. A creative journal is a tool for personal growth which combines the craft of writing and art, such as prose, poetry, drawing, doodling, scribbles and symbols. It also helps get rid of the junk floating around in our head so that we can get down to being creative. In other words, it can be a way to quiet the mind.