The “Myth of the lone genius” is an appealing and enduring idea for us creative types.
Why is it so attractive to us? First, because it’s simple, unlike most of the alternative routes to greatness. All you need is your little genius self, alone in your garret. There’s no vast army of people and all the messy complexity they bring with them to worry about.
Secondly, because it’s rare. Sure, it’s been known to happen, but most genuine innovation happens in groups (Or a “scenius”, as Brian Eno likes to call them). So when it does happen in relative isolation, we notice it more. And because we notice it more, we automatically think it happens more often than it actually does.
Sure, every mad genius needs time alone to REALLY THINK, but he/she also needs a network, to elevate, nurture, improve and help spread the idea.
At some level, creativity becomes collaboration, or the idea simply dies.