I've been reading In Search of Memory, The Emergence of a New Science of Mind, by Eric Kandal (WW Norton & Co, New York, London, 2007). It fascinates me that the same process which allows a snail to "learn" to withdraw its tail when a sharp pin prick is applied, also allows me to write. My creativity, my imagination, is merely the movement of protein within nerve cells and then between them through synapses.
As the snail "learns" to associate a loud noise with the pain of a needle and then to withdraw its tail at the sound only, that synaptic connection reforms and grows stronger. And the more I am creative, the more I write, the more my neural pathways undo and re-tie themselves to increase and concentrate the imaginative links and leaps which fuel what I am doing.
We are complex beings made up of many, many simple chemical reactions.
Kandal posits that the connections between neurons is genetically and developmentally determined, but it is experience which specifies whether these contacts will flourish and become robust. "This view implies that the potential for many of an organism's behaviour is built into the brain, ... however, a creative's environment and learning alter the effectiveness of the pre-existing pathways, thereby leading to the expression of new patterns of behaviour." (Kandal page 202).
Which confirms in scientific speak what we artists know in our soul, we become creative by being creative and by taking risks which break the "shoulds" and "have to" neural pathways imposed by others.