The myth of the creative moment - Deepstash

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The myth of the creative moment

The idea that creativity happens due to a moment of inspiration is false. Inspiration happens when you put in the time to be creative.

  • Mozart and Beethoven each composed over 600 pieces of music. Their contemporaries composed less than 100.
  • Picasso created more than 50,000 pieces of art. Most other professional artists produce a few hundred.
  • Nobel prize winners produce nearly twice as much work compared to their colleagues.
  • People like Beethoven or Picasso slogged away at their craft for decades to end up with a handful of brilliant pieces.

Be bored, not distracted

Boredom itself allows creativity to flow. However, modern society with all its gadgets has gotten really good at distracting us from this boredom.

In the right environment, boredom fuels creative people. Instead of staring at your phone, stare at the blank page. Instead of sitting in front of the TV, sit in front of the canvas.

Creativity is exciting

Creativity is exciting

It triggers some degree of surprise or excitement within us and gives us a new way of seeing things that we could not see before.

However, history and science teach us that the process of creativity is actually completely boring. And that is great news for us.

What it means to be creative

Creativity is often thought of as creating something unique. But, most of what we experience as "new" is simply old stuff presented in fresh or unexpected ways.

Creative work also adds some kind of value to the world. If something is novel but doesn't add value, we won't consider it. If it adds value but isn't new, we consider it to be a rip-off.

Combining novelty and value

Combining novelty and value requires a lot of trial and error. It requires feedback. It requires understanding your audience and their values. It requires shaping and perfecting your craft over many years. For every great idea, there are hundreds of failed ideas.

And that is why creativity can get boring. It appears that creativity is really a skill you can practice and get better at.

Treat ideas like investments

Buy low, sell high. Look for opportunities that are more valuable than most people believe they are, refurbish it and change it into something of a higher value that people can enjoy and value.

Personal computers were seen as impractical and pricey until Bill Gates created software that was simple enough for everyone.

Creativity and doing “normal” things

An ordinary life allows creative people to put food on the table and hone their crafts at the same time.

  • Ernest Hemingway, one of the most famous American authors in the past century, had a day job during most of his literary career.
  • Salman Rushdie was a copywriter during the day and worked on his novels at night.

Copy the most creative people in your field

Creativity isn't an invention; it's reinvention.

  • The process of creativity starts with immersing yourself in the domain you're interested in. You first have to get good enough to at least emulate it. Then try and better it. 
  • Find people who you want to emulate and start emulating them. Then do more of your own.

This foundation provides a well of knowledge and experience that can be remixed to generate new creative work.

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