Creativity can last well into old age, as long as creators stay open to new ideas

The Washington Post:

Doris Lessing, the freewheeling Nobel Prize-winning writer on racism, colonialism, feminism and communism who died Sunday at age 94, was prolific for most of her life. But five years ago, she said the writing had dried up.

“Don’t imagine you’ll have it forever,” she said, according to one obituary. “Use it while you’ve got it because it’ll go; it’s sliding away like water down a plug hole.”

“Large creative breakthroughs are more likely to occur with younger scientists and mathematicians, and with lyric poets, than with individuals who create longer forms,” said Howard Gardner, professor of cognition and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

In fields like law, psychoanalysis and perhaps history and philosophy, on the other hand, “you need a much longer lead time, and so your best work is likely to occur in the latter years,” Gardner said.

There’s some truth to what Lessing said. “You should start when you are young,” Gardner said. “But there is no reason whatsoever to assume that you will stop being creative just because you have gray hair.”

Read the whole story: The Washington Post

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