I search for an emoticon stabbing another emoticon in the head. To send in response to my editor-imposed deadline. Said emoticon does not exist. I reply with “Sounds good!” And strategize an early bedtime for my tot.
I climb into bed, praying the mom gig is done for the night. To lure my creativity out, I do as Thomas Edison did and take a sip of my wine elixir. Minus the dash of cocaine. I’m fresh out.
I wait for it to arrive. Knowing it will show itself at an inconvenient hour. Like a forbidden boyfriend of my youth seeking a happy ending to a night out with the boys.
Suffering from imposter syndrome, I question if creativity is in my blood. Creative people have high IQs. I think of taking a test. I’m not optimistic. I once asked my dad if a cloud would catch me if I fell from the sky.
It’s 1 AM. My husband complains about the glow of my screen keeping him up. I tell him night owls are smarter than early birds. A study done by Satoshi Kanazawa at University of Madrid shows the later the bedtime the higher the IQ. He is not impressed.
Barely able to keep my eyes open, I want to call it a night. But I know better. Being drunk and drowsy increases creativity. Our diminished concentration provides access to thoughts we would otherwise ignore.
I consider waking my husband. Sex boosts creativity, but only when you’re feeling the love. Lust is a bust for creativity, but a boost for analytical skills.
Creative geniuses have two to three times as many notches in their bedpost as the rest of us do. They must not have kids. By day, I’m a toddler powered ride-on. I don’t have it in me to be a loading zone after dark.
I warn him I can’t stay and cuddle. We’re most creative when alone. According to psychologist Keith Sawyer at Washington University, “decades of research have consistently shown brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people working alone and later pool their ideas”.
He tells me to stop talking.
Another hour later, and my draft is complete. Come morning, I edit with sober eyes. And send it off. The obsessive checking of email begins.
I’m afraid it is not good enough. Attempting to write for a much desired byline has been my downfall. Research suggests we are most creative when intrinsically motivated.
I should have outsourced this assignment to my preschooler. 98 percent of tested preschoolers scored creative genius level. Researcher George Land tested the creativity of 1600 preschoolers using the same test NASA used to identify the most innovative candidates. He continued to test the same 1600 children every 5 years:
Percentage of children scoring creative genius level, by age:
Preschool age: 98%
10 year olds: 30%
15 year olds: 12%
The decline continues into adulthood with only 2 percent of adults testing at genius level. And traditional schooling methods were to blame.
Land believes traditional education methods encourage logical and rational thinking. And often discourages the exploration of many unique solutions to one problem. Resulting in creativity being unlearned.
To pass the time, I give my 3-year-old an incomplete drawing assessment. A creativity assessment developed by psychologist Ellis Paul Torrance.
I draw a few lines on a sheet of paper and ask him to finish the drawing. When he’s done, he shares the back story. It involves “bunder and lightning”. And a water buffalo.
The more uncommon the drawing, or the story behind the drawing, the higher the score. Unsure of what to make of his results, I check my email. Again.
The wait is over. My editor tells me to change my angle. And ends it with “Stop trying to be funny.”
I hide my face with my hands, like a magician failing to bend a spoon on live TV. I’ve credited my humor with landing jobs and men that would otherwise be unattainable. Without humor, I am mediocre with bad hair and skin unfit for the sun.
I retrieve my stash of frozen thin mints from the back of the freezer. With my pain properly fed, I respond back with “Got it! Thanks for the feedback.”