First, there’s the “lone genius” myth that people attribute to famous innovators like Steve Jobs and Mozart. People like this myth because it makes for an easy and impressive narrative. But innovation doesn’t happen alone. We create our world by absorbing everything around us—and everything everyone else is doing—remixing it in our brains, and then spitting out new versions.
There’s also the myth of “can’t miss” creative ideas. But in fact, it depends on your place and time. Some creative ideas come before their time. For example, the IBM Simon was an early version of the touchscreen smartphone that came out in 1993, over 20 years before the iPhone. But there wasn’t enough infrastructure to support it, so it didn’t catch on at the time. The creatives that are remembered, like Steve Jobs, were innovative—but they were also in the right place and time for coming up with something that stuck.
Another myth is that there’s a clear way to approach creativity, like you need to work in a pink room, or write at 7:00 a.m. every day, or walk in the rain to be creative. When I ask my fellow author friends about their creative methods, everyone has a completely different routine. There’s no single approach that’s superior.