This is an excerpt of the book Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices And Habits Used To Make Music You’re Happy With. If you would like to download an excerpt or buy a copy you can do so here.

There’s a wide variety of myths that have been perpetuated about those who are good at being creative that don’t line up with the facts. These myths make amateurs feel they shouldn't even try to create since their dreams will get squashed by their overwhelming mediocrity. They believe they don't have what it takes from reading stories about outliers that make for good clickbait stories on blogs.

Doubt, insecurity and fear embody huge parts of the resistance many artists go through, and these myths are commonly the cause. As we grow up, we begin to believe stories that tell us we’re not creative. In kindergarten over 50% of children identify as being creative, but by the time they're teenagers that number drops to 10%. While I don't believe everyone is a creative genius, it's a bad idea to paint this picture so black and white. While some of the drop in creative pursuits comes from children who decide to go into less creative fields, a lot of this doubt is from myths we tell ourselves about who can and cannot be creative. Let’s dispel some myths:

Myth: Creativity Is Inherited - Any evidence that creativity is inherited is purely anecdotal. Instead, many think that being around an environment where creative best practices are abundant leads to this enhanced ability. There's much more evidence that it's developed by acquiring a set of traits. Scientists have found that at most genetics contribute only 10% of someone’s creativity.

Myth: Those With High IQs Are More Creative - Donald MacKinnon surveyed creators such as architects and scientists, finding that those who were most creative showed little correlation to their creative output and IQ. Instead, the greatest creators of any IQ developed a process that allowed them to stumble upon the best ideas. He found that once you cross an IQ of 120, intelligence has absolutely no bearing on whether you'll be more creative. Neuroscience has proven countless times that unless your brain is severely damaged, you have the potential to be creative.

Myth: You Need To Be Depressed To Be Highly Creative - Nancy C. Andreassen did a famous study on The Iowa Writers Workshop (considered to be the best writing program in the world) focusing on depression in artists. She found that 80% of the attendees suffered from mental health issues, a common thread being an inability to create in the darkest throes of their depression. Social psychologist Joseph Forgas says melancholia (often considered depression's less overbearing cousin) can help creativity, yet sadness diminishes insight. Comfort in melancholia allows creators to focus with a painstaking refinement on their works.

While depression isn’t a necessary ingredient for creativity, there’s something to be said for the sadness stemming from a significant loss as a creative accelerator. A study of great creators shows they often suffer a huge loss at an early age where the pain from this loss becomes creative inspiration as well as a motivator.

Myth: You Need To Be Insane To Be Highly Creative - Schizophrenia or being clinically insane doesn't enhance creativity. The evidence doesn't bear scrutiny since most of those diagnosed aren't functional enough to create. Every study has proven that mental illness in hyper-creatives is the exception, not the rule. Psychologists say instead that creativity is part of a fully functioning personality.

Science continually finds highly creative people are walking contradictions. They're more introspective and high functioning in many ways but may contain attributes of depression or what is viewed as being crazy. The myth that creators are crazy stems from being more sensitive than others, which gets described as crazy by those not experienced in diagnosing mental illness. They’re usually blind to a crippling trait or belief that continually alienates others, which gets categorized as being cuckoo.

Myth: You Need To Pass A Personality Test - No personality test can determine if someone’s creative or not. This goes especially for any test a high school guidance counselor administers. If you've been told you’re not creative after taking a test, scientists have proven time and time again these personality tests lack the nuance needed to test creativity. Charlie Kaufman, who wrote some of the most creative movies of recent years such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation and Human Nature, has said "we're all great writers when we're dreaming." In our minds, there's always the potential to be creative – it just needs to be nurtured.

One of the most common contradictions creative people display is qualities of both introversion and extroversion. They’re hard to pin down because their personalities are more complex than others. A study of heavy metal musicians showed they're both bold and brash while being sensitive and shy. They possess a plethora of traits that contradict stereotypes, which is why they make for great stories since it's hard for us to understand the complexity of their personalities.

Myth: If You’re Not An Amazing Creator As A Teenager, You Won’t Be One As An Adult - If you’ve ever listened to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, you've probably noticed a trend ― many of the most accomplished creative guests on the show weren't that way as children. It's a common discussion that there may have been a small part of them that was a seed for the great creator they would become, but it wasn't fully nurtured until later in life. Every study on the subject shows that there's no correlation between being a great creator as a child and later as an adult. The over-representation of stories of creators who were great in their childhood stems from the story not being very interesting if that creativity doesn't amount to anything in adulthood. Only the success stories are told. While being creative at a young age can give you a head start, dedication to the pursuit of your craft at any age is much more important. Who you are as a creator today can be dramatically different after a few years of creating regularly.

Myth: You Need To Have Natural Talent To Excel At Creativity - By definition, the word talent is a "natural aptitude or skill." So when we discuss talent, it's implied that you're born with these skills. Which brings us to why I avoid using the word talent throughout this book. Anyone who's worked in music long enough has come to see that being good at a skill comes easily to some who are seemingly "born with it" whereas others work hard to acquire that skill. What's not discussed is that of those two roads you can take, how you get there doesn't matter as long as you get there. Great music is made by both those who it comes to naturally and to those who worked hard to get there.

What's commonly perceived as inherited is actually that the children of creators are nurtured by being given more time to create. By gaining that practice at an earlier age than those who work hard to become highly creative, they're perceived as superior. When it comes time to make creative work throughout our life, neither group creates superior work as long as they've put in the time to learn the dynamics of creating. This is why I discuss proficiency instead of talent, since that's what makes someone great regardless of how they got there.

This is an excerpt of the book Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices And Habits Used To Make Music You’re Happy With. If you would like to download an excerpt or buy a copy you can do so here.