108: Destroying the Myth of Solitary Genius with Keith Sawyer

The creative process is one of the most significant challenges you will face as a creative. Whether you’re a writer, designer, or web developer, you will regularly face the pressure of creating something new.

108: Destroying the Myth of Solitary Genius with Keith Sawyer

Over the years, I thought to be creative was something I had to do alone or experience as a flash of creativity. Thankfully, I learned this isn’t the case at all.

The “solitary genius” is common myth accepted among the creative class. It’s the belief that creative people are isolated eccentric geniuses who spontaneously receive creative ideas. This is an unhelpful myth that needs to be destroyed. It discourages creative pursuits and diminishes the hard work creative people put into their projects.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Keith Sawyer and I discuss why creativity is a group effort, and eight practical habits you can learn to improve your personal creativity. Keith is considered one of the world’s leading scientific experts on creativity. He has helped students, business leaders, and corporations to become more creative and innovative.

Listen in as Keith shares the latest research on creativity and what this means for you in becoming a more creative person. If you are involved in creative work, then you don’t want to miss this helpful conversation!

Listen to the podcast

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Show highlights

In this episode, Keith and I discuss:

  • What the latest research reveals about the myth of the solitary genius.
  • Why creative people hate the common myths about creativity.
  • How you can balance planning and spontaneity.
  • The challenges of doing creative work alone.
  • Eight habits you can learn to become more creative.
  • Why working too much can inhibit creativity.
  • The best ways to brainstorm new ideas.
  • The two lies that cripple writers.
  • How creativity can improve your career.

Quotes and takeaways

  • Anyone can be creative.
  • The creative process is a long road marked by starting, stopping, detours, and new paths.
  • “The key to innovation is always to manage a subtle between balance planning, structure, and improvisation.” —Keith Sawyer
  • Creative work requires a deep understanding of your field and a focus upon patterns.


What creative habit most resonated with you? How do you think this habit will improve your creative process? Share in the comments.