What is creativity? (Josh Waitzkin)

This Josh Waitzkin quote is from his book, The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence. I love how Josh defines creativity, and views the relationship between technical mastery and insight.


“When I think about creativity, it is always in relation to a foundation. We have our knowledge. It becomes deeply internalized until we can access it without thinking about it. Then we have a leap that uses what we know to go one or two steps further. We make a discovery. Most people stop here and hope that they will become inspired and reach that state of “divine insight” again. In my mind, this is a missed opportunity. Imagine that you are building a pyramid of knowledge. Every level is constructed of technical information and principles that explain that information and condense it into chunks… Once you have internalized enough information to complete one level of the pyramid, you move on to the next. Say you are ten or twelve levels in. Then you have a creative burst… In that moment, it is as if you are seeing something that is suspended in the sky just above the top of your pyramid. There is a connection between that discovery and what you know—or else you wouldn’t have discovered it—and you can find that connection if you try. The next step is to figure out the technical components of your creation. Figure out what makes the “magic” trick.”