Creativity. Where does it come from? The muse? Luck? Maybe, but according to Amy Tan, the source of her creativity is mindfulness. She believes that the universe will tell you what it wants you to do, but only if you are prepared to attend to what it is saying.

Who is she:

Amy Tan was born in the United States in 1952 to parents who immigrated from China. She has written several bestselling novel, as well as 2 children’s books. Even though her mother wanted her to become a doctor and concert pianist she rebelled and chose the life of a fiction writer. Her best-known work is The Joy Luck Club, which has been translated into 35 languages. In 1993, the book was adapted into a commercially successful film.

Why should you listen:

She asks the important questions about life and creativity. Many of us do not perceive ourselves as creative; she catalogs the sequence of what has happened in life, how it happened and how can I make things happen. She underscores the disconnect between the first two and the last that she explores.

Discussion questions:

  1. Her intelligence quotient was high but her achievement level was lower (B’s in school). What might account for this? What do psychology texts say about the relationship between intelligence and creativity?
  2. What is her definition of creativity? How does she make quantum mechanics a metaphor for creativity?
  3. How is ambiguity linked to creativity?
  4. Do you become more creative when you ask, “What am I responsible for?”
  5. Critique her use of visuals in presenting her talk.
  6. What was her purpose in bringing the bag on stage and showing us the contents at the end of her talk?
  7. Think back to the story that she told about the man on the beach stacking rocks. Balance in life may be seen as static by Westerners, but she sees it as dynamic. Explain your understanding of these differing views.




Where does Creativity Hide with Amy Tan


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