Isaac Asimov on Creativity



My feeling is that as far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required. The creative person is, in any case, continually working at it. His mind is shuffling his information at all times, even when he is not conscious of it. (The famous example of Kekule working out the structure of benzene in his sleep is well-known.)
The presence of others can only inhibit this process, since creation is embarrassing. For every new good idea you have, there are a hundred, ten thousand foolish ones, which you naturally do not care to display.

From a recently unearthed, previously unpublished essay from 1959 by scientist and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov.

READ ON: Isaac Asimov Mulls “How Do People Get New Ideas?” (Technology Review)


11 thoughts on “Isaac Asimov on Creativity

  1. Spaghetti Hoop

    Thought ‘Isaac Asimov’ was a Bart Simpson phone character at first.
    Interesting article and even more interesting topic.
    The man writes with clarity.
    MORE of this please.

    1. rotide

      Was it you who mentioned the Journal earlier?

      Thinking Isaac Asimov was a simsons reference is a pretty journal thing to say :)

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        No, I didn’t mention no Journal.
        Rotide, would you kindly send the link to the ‘Dictionary of Journal Things to Say’ so I can mend my ways?

  2. rotide

    Isaac Asimov’s greatest failing as a writer was his complete inability to write people. He was a brilliant brilliant writer when it came to science and science fiction but god, his dialogue and emotional ploys were sub tolkien.

    1. Crass Commenter

      That sounds about right. Very enjoyable short stories, though, if you’re looking for hmms and chuckles rather than psychological depth.

    2. SOMK

      Quite common with a lot of sci-fi authors though, but then sci-books are like landscape paintings, it’s more about the setting than the peope.

      1. Lan

        I dunno, the best sci-fi and fantasy create characters that seem like they actually belong there. The poorer ones are just like actors dropped into an odd scenery.

        A great example of that is the fantasy series Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson. Built an entire world with distinct cultures and people to go with it, even worked out politics and what not

    3. well

      That explains a lot, the best parts of his foundation series are the books that are made up of small stories , the later books where he focuses on one character weren’t as great.

  3. Barry

    Damn fascinating. All the more so for writing in such a clear headed way about such a cloudy process.

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