Here are the five things writers should know about creativity:
1. Creativity is broken up into two parts: Convergent thinking (the process of combining and sorting out the best ideas) and divergent thinking (the process of creating ideas). Of the two, divergent thinking can be substantially improved, whereas convergent thinking is more crystallized. As screenwriters, we can improve divergent thinking skills through cognitive fluency exercises.
2. “Eureka” moments can be achieved by taking your mind off the project you’re working on. According to Arne Dietrich’s paper, The Cognitive Neuroscience of Creativity (2004), there are two types of creativity, which can be interpreted as a mixture of different subtraits. Spontaneous and cognitive creativity requires taking a step back from the problem and taking time off, and originates from the basal ganglia where dopamine is stored. This type of creativity operates outside of the conscience awareness, and by doing unrelated tasks and getting away from the problem that requires a creative solution, the prefrontal cortex can make new connections and come up with an original solution. Spontaneous emotional creativity generates the “Eureka!” moments that cannot be planned for, and originate from the amygdala.
3. Reading fiction books makes you more creative. The study, “Reading for Pleasure and Creativity Among College Students” surveyed 225 university students and administered the twenty item Scale of Creative Attributes and Behavior (SCAB) creativity test. “The results indicated that reading for pleasure was significantly, positively correlated to creativity.”
4. Divergent thinking is the most important aspect of creativity. “In the study of individual differences in creative ability and potential— divergent thinking is the most promising candidate for the foundation of creative ability” (Plucker & Renzulli, 1999; Runco, 2007).
5. Creative people operate differently. Not only are they at risk for schizophrenia-like disorders, but a study from California State University indicates that people who are creative also are more likely to suffer from insomnia (Healey & Runco, 2006.)