Creativity and the Critical Process

By | March 31, 2011

Instead of reading other peoples’ material to improve your writing skills, I suggest reading your readers. If you write to be read, who could be better qualified than your audience to guide your evolution as a writer?

Denis Dutton, professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand and author of The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution, is one of few academics I have come across who recognizes that creative development is better served by audience and inner-self relationship than by listening to critics and emulating peers. Imitation is the basis of culture, not creativity. Dutton elaborates on this point in the following excerpt from his September 10, 2010 Wisconsin Public Radio interview: “I think it’s important to realize that artists act independently of art theorists. It’s absolutely not for art theorists to tell artists what to do. They’ve got to live by their nerves, using their intelligence, looking at their audience, and looking at the material that they’re working with, and doing the best that they can do. They don’t have to listen to people like me. In fact, they’d be better off ignoring art theorists in general. I think part of the problem with art in the 20th century is that artists read too many art magazines and read too much art theory. And I think they should have less to do with it and look more at the medium and look more at what they can personally express through it.”

You can find the full interview at, along with more at his Arts and Letters Daily website.

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