How does creativity work? Where does inspiration come from? What are the secrets of our most revered creators? How can we maximize our creative potential? From the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times science reporter.
... engaging and lively ... Richtel ruthlessly punctures each of these myths, and more, with prose that is crisp, conversational and at times darned funny ... He doesn’t have all the answers, though, and thank goodness. It is his open embrace of doubt — and yes, mystery — that explains a lot of this book’s charm ... Richtel doesn’t fixate on the neuroscience...This is creativity at its broadest and most inclusive, encompassing everything from the coronavirus (the novel coronavirus) to Bono to the guy who invented Velcro ... What distinguishes Inspired is its expansive range and conversational tone, as well as Richtel’s ability to synthesize a lot of complex research, simplifying without oversimplifying. He’s clearly done his homework, weeding through many dry scientific papers and distilling their essence. He also excels at probing assumptions or, as he puts it, asking the 'smart-dumb question' ... Richtel paints compelling, bite-size portraits of these creatives, teasing lessons from each, but I wish he had better exercised one of the key tenets of creativity: discernment. Some of these creatives are more insightful than others. And they come and go too quickly. We’re just getting to know them, to peer into their creative process, when Richtel ushers them offstage...And I would have liked to have learned more about the one creator’s story he knows best: his own...And while Richtel punctures some myths about creativity, he perpetuates others ... not perfect — no creation is. The otherwise fresh writing is marred by a few syrupy clunkers ... This is a bouillabaisse of a book: a meaty, messy mélange of stories, hunches, studies, digressions, contradictions and, occasionally, blazing insight. It is, in other words, a lot like the creative process itself. Magic included.
Richtel reassures the reader that our expanding melting pot population is a help, not a hindrance, to creation. His straightforward optimism made me see writer’s block as a round problem by pointing out that our greatest roadblock is our expectation of instant perfection. Without trial (emphasis on day in day out practice) and error (aka failure), no one can climb the mountain of creativity.
... remarkable ... At once conversational and intellectual, Richtel’s lucid writing and intensive research showcase the many facets and manifestations of creativity. This profound and at times whimsical volume informs and inspires.