Solitude or Collaboration? Listen to NPR…

The radio show Big Picture Science just produced an NPR special about creativity, solitude, and collaboration. In the solitude corner: Susan Cain, best-selling author of the new book Quiet, arguing that solitude enhances creativity. In the collaboration corner, Keith Sawyer (me), author of the 2007 book Group Genius, arguing that all creativity is deeply based in collaboration.

Here’s the segment with my interview:

Here’s a link to the entire one-hour show:

3 thoughts on “Solitude or Collaboration? Listen to NPR…

  1. Hi there, Keith!

    I believe that both group works and solitude can be creative and intriguing.

    I take my example, for instance. I began learning the guitar 3 years ago and now I’m able to write my own songs. Nothing quite sophisticated, but I could achieve a satisfactory level with them. I wrote the lyrics and the progressions for the acoustic guitar.

    Now, for the last three months, I’ve been rehearsing with some friends in a studio. We rehearsed 2 of these songs. And, from my point of view, the act of creation there was taken to a whole new level – rhythm was changed, a bit of the harmony, the melody line for the voice. Kinda like a polish I could not have done all by myself, at least not that fast.

    But at the same time, the lyrics and the original base would never be able to come out as they did in a group environment. that was me, lonely, by myself, playing with words and guitar. and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting a lot…

    Anyway, it’s a great blog and I’ll be popping in here more!



    1. I agree that songwriting is one of those creative acts that is best done with one or two people (e.g. Lennon & McCartney). There are exceptions: In my 1980s rock band “Video Free Europe” some of our most popular songs were collectively written in rehearsal–they emerged from us just jamming around. But they were more like extended vamps, they did not have complicated harmonic structure nor melody.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s