Is there such a thing as a creative writing gene? A recent Yale-Moscow State University Study has found a modest heritability to creative writing. An intriguing idea to be sure but the author of the linked article, Austin Allen, argues the study results are way overblown.

The famous literary parents who produce famous literary children are really few and far between. Austin notes that there are many more famous sports and acting families than there are writing families and suggests that an aspiring writer’s best bet might be to have a rich parent. After all, creative use of language is a cognitive skill. Being born to a healthy mother and growing up well-fed, well cared for, and well educated, will probably give you better odds at being a creative writing genius than having a particular gene. Plus, if your parents are rich, you don’t have to worry about getting a job to pay the bills. And what about all the famous authors whose parents were not writers? Besides, if creative writing is heritable then what about families with generations of doctors or lawyers in them? Is some study going to tell us next that there is a doctor gene and a lawyer gene?

It seems doubtful to me that a gene would make one more likely to be a creative writer. The study, after all, did not do gene sequencing but evaluated writing samples from parents and children. That doesn’t say genetic to me at all, that says environmental. Show me the DNA and I will concede, but a study that simply evaluates writing samples and then jumps to creative writing gene, nope, can’t go there. Just another example of researchers trying to ascribe everything to genetics.

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