Artistic Creativity – Gift or DNA?

Since I’ve been a published writer for 22 years, when my daughter

Writer, Barb Kent

Writer, Barb Kent

recentlybecame a writer and her younger son suddenly announced he’d like to write a book, I started wondering if this trait is genetic.  Thus began my personal research into the subject.

Frankly, I think I’ve opened a real can of worms and have learned  far more than I wanted to know.  To whittle it down, there appears to be a hereditary factor in those of us who are writers/musicians/artists.  It involves a lot of components such as serantonin, the channel between the two sides of the brain and other complicated physiological matters, coupled with our environment and personal experiences.  That’s the good news.

In addition, there is also a fine line between our creativity and mental problems like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which is the expected bad news that always follows the good.  Lord Byron is quoted as saying, “We of the craft are all crazy.”  Even though Beethoven, Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Van Gogh are said to have had some degree of one of these problems, did I really want to know this?  Nah! 

It has also been determined that anyone can learn to become creative.  Ernest Hemingway’s thoughts on that matter were, “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write.  Let them think you were born that way.”

My deceased grandson, Pete, about whom I wrote my book WE ARE Pete & Book dec2013 026DIFFERENT NOW, was multi-talented.  He excelled as a writer, musician and artist all rolled into one person.  He is my daughter’s oldest son and all three of those arts are absolutely in his lineage.

Up until now, I believed it to be a gift from God and think I’ll still go with that since DNA is handed down from one generation to the next, as is the capacity to learn.  What do you think – gift or DNA?

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman



About jtzortman

Author of "WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW" - A Grandparent's Journey Through Grief, first place award winning novel "FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST" and award-winning novel "SNOW ANGEL". Contributing author to anthologies "Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides", "American Blue", "Recipes by the Book: Oak Tree Authors Cook" and "The Centennial Book of The National Society of Daughters of the Union 1861-1865". Numerous articles, poems and short stories published since 1990. Charter Member of the Public Safety Writers Association and member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Winner of ten writing awards. I live in a quaint Colorado mountain tourist town with my husband and Siamese cat. When deeps snows blanket the terrain and spectacular views from my windows, it becomes the perfect spot in which to write.
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9 Responses to Artistic Creativity – Gift or DNA?

  1. barbkent says:

    YES!! I have also noted that creative people suffer from emotional issues but I believe that great artists are emotional, they have to be to be able to put feelings into art. Being highly emotional is a gift, unfortunately our society doesn’t appreciate it so it’s labeled as “crazy”


    • jtzortman says:

      You are absolutely right. That’s where the environment and personal experience elements of it all come into play. The percentage of us who struggle with mental illness is not very high, (some say 1%, others more like 20%) but it keeps us interesting. 🙂 Now, what I want to know is who before us gave us this particular DNA. Some people have told me to look at those who told great stories many years ago, but didn’t necessarily write them down. I’ve done genealogy on all our lines and have yet to discover an actual writer, though many kept journals or wrote beautiful letters on a regular basis.


  2. ralph murphy says:

    you can learn english, but how to weave the words is the individual’s. if it was easy, everyone would do it


  3. ralph murphy says:

    you can learn english, but how to weave the words are the individual’s. if it was easy, everyone would do it


    • jtzortman says:

      That’s right, Ralph. The odds of being artistically creative and also mentally ill are very small, but researchers seem to think it is worth mentioning. That backs up the “suffering artist” concept. I found the information both interesting and amusing.


    • jtzortman says:

      Ralph – I got this on here twice, but didn’t notice it until today. Thanks for taking the time and caring enough to let me know you commented. I appreciate your support.


  4. John M. Wills says:

    I think the gene runs wild in your family.


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