Berdyaev, one of my favourite philosophers, maintained that creativity is the imago Dei for humanity, a mysterious element unique to human beings. Berdyaev wrote a very good book in 1916 entitled The Meaning of the Creative Act. In it he wrote that creativity is the mystery of freedom and that only the person who is free creates. He writes:
Creativity is something which proceeds from within, out of immeasurable and inexplicable depths, not from without, not from the world's necessity. The very desire to make the creative act understandable, to find a basis for it, is failure to comprehend it. To comprehend the creative act means to recognize that it is inexplicable and without foundation.
Berdyaev was a religiously oriented philosopher who maintained that salvation is not so much from something such as sin as it is to enable us to be for something. And that for something is the creative upsurge of humanity.
More recently, I came across an interview from NPR's All Things Considered. The interviewer discusses creativity with Jonah Lehrer, a writer specializing in neuroscience, addresses the question of creativity in his new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works.
The interview is embedded below. Lehrer uses Steve Jobs as an example of how creativity is a social process. Lehrer says:
He (Jobs) wanted there to be mixing. He knew that the human friction makes the sparks, and that when you're talking about a creative endeavor that requires people from different cultures to come together, you have to force them to mix; that our natural tendency is to stay isolated, to talk to people who are just like us, who speak our private languages, who understand our problems. But that's a big mistake. And so his design was to force people to come together
On the whole theme of the necessity of people coming together for creativity I came across the article The Social Networks of Emily Dickinson, Paul Gauguin & Charlotte Bronte. It is a very interesting article which supports the idea of collaboration and connection. Even the famous loners and people who love solitude, Dickinson, Gaugin and Bronte, had their most creative outputs when they were connected in some way in vital relationships. Bottom line according to the author is "Communication, collaboration, and social networks contribute to creativity."
Finally, if you are not feeling creative, Lehrer has this suggestion:
What you should do then — when you hit the wall — is get away from your desk. Step away from the office. Take a long walk. Daydream. Find some way to relax. Get those alpha waves. Alpha waves are a signal in the brain that's closely correlated with states of relaxation. And what scientists have found is that when people are relaxed, they're much more likely to have those big 'A ha!' moments, those moments of insight where these seemingly impossible problems get solved. So when you hit the wall, the best thing you can do is probably take a very long, warm shower. The answer will only arrive once you stop looking for it.
.....The answer will only arrive once you stop looking for it. Very zen but ground in neuroscience.