Sunday, October 19, 2008

Conceptual Versus Experimental Creativity

In a lengthy New Yorker article, Malcolm Gladwell examines our assumption that genius requires youth: “doing something truly creative, we’re inclined to think, requires the freshness and exuberance and energy of youth.” David Galenson, an economist at the University of Chicago, tested this conception and concluded that creativity can be divided into two types: Conceptual and experimental. Conceptual creativity comes early while experimental creativity requires years and years of development:
The Cézannes of the world bloom late not as a result of some defect in character, or distraction, or lack of ambition, but because the kind of creativity that proceeds through trial and error necessarily takes a long time to come to fruition. … [L]ate bloomers bloom late because they simply aren’t much good until late in their careers.
So, there’s plenty of hope for all of you out there struggling towards your masterpieces. Keep up the good work.


Anna van Gelderen said...

Ah! and to think I'd given up on my masterpiece years ago...

Harvey said...

What was most interesting about this article to me as a lawyer and writer is that the "late bloomer" it focused on is Ben Fountain, author of the short story collection, "Brief Encounters With Che Guevara," who quit his job with a big Dallas law firm and devoted himself to writing fiction. I think it took him 10 years to get his collection published. That's persistence.