Do you think solitude is required for extreme creativity? Or perhaps the best inventions are produced by collaborating teams?

8 Answers

Sarah G. Profile
Sarah G. answered

Whether or not an individual requires solitude depends entirely on the person. Some people feel their flow is interrupted in the presence of others while some are invigorated by working with others. Though the creative process varies from person to person, I often look to William Wordsworth when considering creativity.

Wordsworth was one of the great nineteenth century British Romantics. He believed that poetry came from the spontaneous overflow of emotion recollected in tranquility. I think you could apply this to many forms of art. Creativity requires at least some form of contemplation, which is a process that takes place privately. For some, the actual work is further enhanced by the participation of others.

Dan Banks Profile
Dan Banks answered

I suppose it depends on the nature of the invention! Sometimes solitude is required in order to be truly creative, but it can also be beneficial to have numerous people working towards the same goal.

For example, if I was writing a song or a book, I would find it beneficial to cut myself off from the outside world - so I could acces the more creative recesses of the brain. However, if I was inventing something more technical, then I would rather work as part of a team.

If the nature of the invention is personal then solitude is preferable, if it's a product that is intended for the market, then a team environment would be advantageous.

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Roxann Souci
Roxann Souci commented
I also think it depends on the nature of the creative project. If I were to create a creative project for Burning Man, I would want it to be a collaborate project. When I paint abstract paintings, www.roxannsouci.com, I do so in solitude.
Roxann Souci
Roxann Souci commented
Completely share the same experiences.
Melinda Moore
Melinda Moore commented
Great answer. When I'm actually writing, I can't cope with any distractions from the imaginary world I'm trying to inhabit. However, if I didn't interact at other times, I'd then have a terrible shortage of ideas and material, as well as no idea how to make my dialogue sound convincing.
Yo Kass Profile
Yo Kass , Creative-type, answered

I find that creativity is often a personal and private process. I've been in a few bands, and have been interested in creative writing for as long as I can remember - and I personally find that going through a creative process with other people stifles my ideas because I end up having to accommodate and compromise to fit other people in.

For example, when I'd write lyrics for my band's songs - I found it much easier to be given a basic structure to a track, and then come up with some words that fitted around it.

When we sat down as a band and tried to write songs together, it always ended up being messy. Although the process was more democratic, it took us longer to get to our goal - and the end product was usually a watered-down version of all our ideas, rather than the full-flavor idea that an individual had created.

These are the reasons why I think the creative spark is best ignited in solitude.

However, seeing that spark through to a viable conclusion requires other people - very much so!

Using the analogy of my band again, although one of us might show up to practice with an amazing idea for a song, how that initial moment of creativity transformed into a full song was through combined efforts and team work.

The structure of the song and all the technical parts of writing and recording music would have to be shared amongst us.

I think the same applies to professional projects like websites or companies. It only takes one creative person thinking about things in the shower to have an amazing idea that hours and hours of group brainstorming would struggle to come up with.

However, seeing that idea through to a reality requires a dedicated team effort!

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Melinda Moore
Melinda Moore commented
Agree completely, Kass. When I was at Art School, we were given a team project for one of our degree assessments.

There were three teams - and two of them had terrible internal arguments, with people resigning and losing their tempers, while everyone in the third team got along famously, all the time.

At presentation and assessment time, however, it soon became clear that it was the team which had suffered the most conflict that had ultimately produced by far the best artistic outcome, whereas the one which had always maintained a consensus had produced something derivative and dull.

When you're a creative, other people's ideas can be brilliant for triggering and refining your own - but you also need a belief in and commitment to your own vision to turn those ideas into something really inventive and worthwhile.
Filip Kuhtic Profile
Filip Kuhtic answered

Solitude is not required for creativity.Creativity is something that happens. You can't control it. When that moment of brilliance comes you can instantly feel it and it can happen any time and at any place no matter how many people are around you.

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Roxann Souci
Roxann Souci commented
I think creative ideas can come at any time, and are stimulated bu situations and people, but when it is time for me to actually "create", I need to be by myself to synthesize and process the creative thoughts, and translate them to my medium.
Melinda Moore
Melinda Moore commented
I'd agree with you about that, Roxann!
Adam  Groom Profile
Adam Groom answered

There is no simple answer to this question, it really does depend on what you are trying to achieve.

I find peaceful solitude enables me to patiently contemplate ideas, visualise the various paths and explore them.

Working with others often helps you get to your destination quicker, it's less personal, but your strengths are combined, so potentially a lot more can be accomplished.

Melinda Moore Profile
Melinda Moore , Writer and artist, answered

I suspect that one of the factors at play here is how different people get ideas, and how much external stimulus they need, in order to do so.

For example, some of my friends can't bear their own company, and have very few interests which don't involve other people, or activities, to stimulate them and make them feel alive - but other friends enjoy much more solitary pursuits and yet are never bored, or short of ideas.

Each group often hold totally different views as to what is needed to promote and enhance creativity.

I myself think that there's a role both for solitude and the input of other people in most creative activities, but at different stages, depending on the type of activity involved.

For example, I love listening in to other people's conversations and observing how they react, when I'm not working on a story - as that then informs my writing, and helps to make it more believable.

However, when it comes to the time to sit down and actually do the writing itself, I then need total silence and to be left alone, so that I can "hear" what I'm writing, in my head.

It can take ages to get into the writing "zone" when I'm by myself, so having other people around tends to make it impossible.

I also find the same thing happens when working on visual art projects, when I prefer to work largely alone at first, while developing an idea, but then to see what other people's opinions are, once I have some idea of where I'm hoping to go with it.

At that stage, other people's input can lead me to completely change direction, but - at other times, and equally usefully - sometimes their responses will make me even more sure that I want to go ahead with what I'm already doing, even if they don't think I should.

In this sort of situation, it's as if the challenge posed by other people's ideas and opinions forces you to be much clearer about how much you believe in what you're doing, and then to fully commit to it. Once that happens, it seems much easier to find the energy needed to see your project through to completion.

Another interesting point which is linked to this, and to what others have said, is to what degree collaboration benefits creative outcomes - and on what type of collaboration it is: Competitive, or truly collaborative.

Personality must also be a factor, as - while some people become more creative when under pressure, whether as a result of deadlines or because they are in competition with other people - others can find that these things kill creativity, and render them completely unable to produce the quality of work they're otherwise capable of.

Some people find that conflict makes them more creative, too - while others find it so stressful that it makes them wholly unable to think creatively.

I'm also quite curious as to whether being left- or right-brained has any effect on whether people need solitude or company in order to be at their most creative.

Kathryn Wright Profile
Kathryn Wright , I have worked in teams all my life and now lead the best team ever!, answered

I personally find it really hard to be creative if I am on my own.  I love to be around other people and discuss ideas. Sometimes, a small word or phrase that someone else uses will trigger off a thought process, and for me, those have been some real times of clarity. Often, I come up with some of my best ideas when I sit alone and reflect on the day's interactions however, so I love to generate ideas in a group and then to perfect them in my own time.

I guess the old phrase is that two heads are better than one, and when you think of all the different experiences that people have in their lives, all the different religions and values that we are bought up with, all lead to great debate and often great collaboration. Thinking about it more, this is exactly what Blurtit and other social networks are for. People putting their heads together and helping someone find answers to their question.

We could all discuss this in private message messages or emails, but instead we choose to help more people by answering openly. I love the internet for this reason. I love meeting new people and hearing the other points of view that there are. So, collaborating teams are definitely the most productive in my opinion.

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Roxann Souci
Roxann Souci commented
I think it depends on the creative medium. Painting doesn't work as a group project. It is much more personal. Art installations are wonderful as a collaboration.

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