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Oh, the Things You Can Learn From Creative Writing – Part VIII

Podcast Link: Click here.

Podcast Transcript: Hi, genuine writers! This is Innovative Editing’s Jeannette DiLouie welcoming you to episode #30 of The Genuine Writer Podcast. We keep things short, sweet and to the point here so that you can learn what you need to learn and get back to writing already.

Today’s episode – which discusses how creative writing enhances your intelligence – is sponsored by The Adulteress, a story about religion, ego, abuse, control, and what it’s truly like to let all that just go already. Follow the paths of Keziah, a young Jewish woman with an angry husband; and Demetrius, a Roman soldier with nothing solid to believe in. Together, they’ll hit rock bottom before they’re ready to recognize the intensely worthwhile reality right in front of their eyes.

If you’d like to read The Adulteress in print or on Kindle, I’ll make sure to include the Amazon link for you to click on in the description section.

Speaking of descriptions, we’ve spent the last seven weeks describing a growing list of ways you can become a stronger, better, more effective version of yourself through creative writing. This series is hardly going to be able to cover every single way that creative writing can help you achieve what you want to achieve, not just on paper but off it as well. But we’re trying to hit as many high notes as possible. I’d say that reason #8, which we’re covering today, is a big one. But that implies that the past seven weren’t, which wouldn’t be accurate at all.

So instead of trying to think of ways to describe this one, let’s just get to it.

If you’ll recall, our last podcast episode focused on how creative writing can help us become better problem-solvers in the real world as well as in the fictional worlds we build. By walking our characters through the physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, political, personal, familial, cultural, societal – or whatever – issues that we do, we explore ways we can do so ourselves.

And if we’re becoming better problem solvers ourselves, it only makes sense that we’re becoming more intelligent in the process? Right?

To illustrate this further, I’m not going to quote any authors waxing poetic about how amazingly smart they are because of what they do. For one thing, there’s an obvious bias there. For another, I find most poetically waxed authorial quotes rather pretentious. And as we’ve already established, proper creative writing is supposed to lead us away from being silly, stupid snobs.

Which, I suppose, goes to show you that there are a decent number of people out there who don’t do creative writing the proper way.

That aside, let’s quote the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Institutes of Health. Because there’s never any bias in government publications, right?

According to an academic-style report it lists titled “The Relationship Between Intelligence and Creativity: New Support for the Threshold Hypothesis by Means of Empirical Breakpoint Detection,” creativity “leads us to change the way we think about things and is conceived as the driving force that moves civilization forward…” That makes it sound like a pretty big deal right there, and it ties in directly with what we said before about problem-solving.

For better or worse, civilization doesn’t advance based on people doing the same old thing the same old way. It requires the same kind of out-of-the-box thinking that creative writing so often requires, looking at reality as it is and imagining it to be different – then putting that imagination into action, working out the kinks, problem-solving and persevering until that vision is a reality.

I’m not saying that such progress is always a good thing. There are plenty of mistakes and even horrific advances the world has made over the millennia. Then again, I never said intelligence was always a good thing either. It’s up to us how to use that intelligence: for good or evil

Here’s another caveat: None of this is to say you can substitute imagination for traditional intelligence. What I am trying to get at is this: Encouraging intelligence to be all that it can be by applying creativity to it is what can turn book knowledge into innovation, producing groundbreaking entrepreneurs, teachers, technological advancements and so much more.

Robert J. Sternberg, a respected professor of human development at Cornell University, postulates this on his website,

The traditional view of intelligence is that it comprises a single general ability (g), under which are hierarchically arranged successively more specific levels of abilities, such as fluid ability (the ability to think flexibly and in novel ways) and crystallized ability (cumulative knowledge).

The augmented theory of successful intelligence, in contrast, suggests that intelligence is more complex than this. Successful intelligence is defined as one’s ability to set and accomplish personally meaningful goals in one’s life, given one’s cultural context. A successfully intelligent person accomplishes these goals by figuring out his or her strengths and weaknesses, and then by capitalizing on the strengths and correcting or compensation for the weaknesses.

Now, I hardly subscribe to everything the academic world puts out there. There’s a lot of pretentious “nitwittery” that goes on in so-called higher education. A lot of arrogance. A lot of insanity. A lot of theorizing instead of actual scientific research and application, where one tests out a theory and concludes accordingly instead of coming up with a thought and defending it with a cultish lack of curiosity.

But this one seems to make sense when applied to reality.

After all, there are plenty of people out there with very high IQs who don’t make much of anything worthwhile with their lives. In fact, high IQs can trip people up. Similarly, the vast majority of those with extremely high traditionally recognized signs of intelligence don’t go on to make history or move history.

In which case, what’s the point of seeing intelligence so narrowly in the first place? Wouldn’t you much rather be someone who understands himself well enough to handle life with confidence? That certainly seems to better jive with the definition of intelligence, which is the “capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.”

That’s why I’m more than willing to keep quoting Sternberg in this case:

Strengths and weaknesses are in terms of four kinds of skills: creative, analytical, practical, and wisdom-based. In particular, the individual needs to be creative in order to generate novel and useful ideas; analytical to ascertain that the ideas he/she has (and that others have) are good ones; practical in order to apply those ideas and convince others of their value; and wise in order to ensure that implementation of the ideas will help ensure a common good through the mediation of positive ethical principles.

By that definition, intelligence is best encouraged by developing all four skills, learning how to properly balance the creative with the analytical with the practical and the wisdom-based. And while the creative part can obviously be fueled through plenty of means such as musical or artistic expressions, writing stories will work just as well if not better depending on the person.

That’s all I’ll say on the subject for now, though I’m guessing I’ll revisit it again in some way, shape or form in the future. There’s plenty more theorizing and practical application alike to back up this point, just not enough room to cover it all in a short and sweet podcast episode. Thanks as always for tuning into this one though. And I can’t wait to give you The Genuine Writer’s last but not least reason why you should creative write next week!



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