What they won’t tell you about creativity

“I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at 9am every morning.”

We live in a time when creativity is sold as a cure-all alongside diverse other forms of self help. There are creativity coaches, handbooks of creative recovery, and creativity retreats. Being creative has superstars.

But there’s something they aren’t telling you.

Think about this from the perspective of the creativity guru.  They have to appeal to a mass market. If they’re going to make superstar status, a million people have to buy their book.

So what they aren’t going to say, won’t ever reveal, and indeed CAN’T come clean about is this.

You don’t know what you’re doing.

The basic reason why 99% of novels never get written, songs don’t get recorded, films are never made and businesses go unfounded, isn’t a mystery.

It’s not a psychological block.

It’s not a childhood trauma.

It’s a plain old lack of knowledge, skills, technique and learning about the activity at hand. The person doing the creating, does not know what they are doing.

This is a problem the creativity guru cannot solve. Because to do so, they would have to, themselves, know what they are doing. And if they knew what they were doing, they wouldn’t be a creativity guru.

The writer for who inspiration strikes at 9am every morning knows what they are doing.  Which is the universal answer to all vague creative problems like writer’s block.

Know what you are doing.

(The opening quote is of contested authorship, which either means it’s untrue, or so true no one author alone could have said it.)

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Fear is the flip-side of wonder

Have you ever noticed we use the same words for fear and wonder?

Awe is both awesome and awful.

Terror is both terrible and terrific.

Our ancestors knew something we’ve tried to forget. That the horrors we fear are also the gateways to wonder.

Scared of losing your job? Failing your exams? Ending that relationship?

Flip them over and all these disasters become miracles. A new career, a different life, greater love.

Even death, the ultimate awful, might be followed by the ultimate awesome.

Boredom, anxiety, depression are the symptoms of wonder-starvation, caused by a chronic aversion to fear.

Fear is the flip-side of wonder. You can’t have one without learning to love the other.