Readers of Susan Cain's Quiet and Daniel Pink's When will appreciate this passionate investigation into creativity and the human brain—from the perspective of an author investigating her own brain after a concussion.
Author and journalist Hilde Østby was cycling to work one day when she crashed head-first into a stone bridge. At the hospital, she was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and prescribed rest and relaxation. But her brain was anything but restful: ideas for new writing projects popped into her head at a frenzied pace. Never before had she had so many 'aha' moments. But at the same time, simple tasks like walking through an airport felt impossible. Had the concussion made her—like the stereotype of the tortured artist—more creative but less able to function in society? Or was there something else at play? What makes a person creative, anyway?
In The Key to Creativity, Østby takes readers on a deep-dive into why we are creative and what conditions must be present in order for us to make our best work: whether that be a painting, a piece of writing, or simply a good email. Using characters from Alice in Wonderlandfor inspiration, Østby investigates why we have ideas that seemingly come out of nowhere, like the Cheshire Cat, and how we can quiet our inner critic, like the rule-obsessed Queen of Hearts. Along the way, she speaks with artists of all stripes and interviews psychiatrists and neurologists who specialize in understanding what happens in the brain when we are at our most creative. She discovers that having a tortured and lonely existence isn't necessarily conducive to producing great art—and that being able to complete a task, on time, and according to your and others' expectations, is as important as being able to think outside the box.
Østby soon learns that she needs to make changes in her own life to recover from her brain injury and to give structure and life to her ideas. This engaging and groundbreaking book debunks the myth that you need to be a genius in order to be an artist or inventor. All you need is an idea and the tools to make your creative dream come true.