18 Ways to Think About Creativity

by Joel Friedlander on September 4, 2010 · 13 comments

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Where do ideas come from? You don’t know? That’s okay, nobody else knows either.

But what can we say about creativity? I have 18 thoughts for you.

  1. You are absolutely unique, and what you have to offer the world cannot possibly be duplicated by someone else. Don’t minimize this.
  2. Other people may not understand what you’re doing, and this can sometimes be a very good sign. The trick is knowing when.
  3. Learn when to share an idea with a friend, and when to guard it like the most precious secret in the world.
  4. If you don’t take credit for good ideas when they simply happen to you, you won’t have to take the blame when you find out your idea won’t work.
  5. No one else can see what you can see, or has ever seen what you are seeing right now. This scene has never existed before and will never exist again.
  6. My father told me, “Never be the only one in a room doing something.” I believe he was only partly right.
  7. Let what you’ve created speak for itself.
  8. If you don’t believe in your work, support it with passion, champion it bravely, why should anyone else believe in it?
  9. Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Being productive in the world requires compromise somewhere along the way.
  10. Doing something worthwhile takes time—and training and preparation and resolve. You need to have some steel inside to see a big project through to the end.
  11. Being able to say “yes” to yourself is just as valuable as being able to say “no” to yourself.
  12. The letdown or “anticlimax” of completion never happens if you are present during the process of creation.
  13. Tools have never created anything. People create with whatever tools are available.
  14. Inspiration is beautiful but overrated. Persistance is at least as important, especially if you want to be a professional. Albert Einstein claimed he was no smarter than his colleagues, but that he worked at problems far longer than anyone else. Be Einstein.
  15. Realize that most of the models we have of creativity are media depictions designed to appeal to our fantasies. Really being creative rarely looks the way you think it will.
  16. There’s nothing more common than “good ideas.” There’s nothing more satisfying than a good idea transformed from a possibility into reality in the world.
  17. You don’t need wild invention to be creative. William Shakespeare did not invent any of the stories he told in his plays, yet he is regarded as the greatest writer of all.
  18. If you imagine you can do something extraordinary, you’re more likely to take the steps necessary to achieve it. It’s taking those steps that sets you apart.

Go and create.

Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, original work copyright by Shannon Kringen, http://www.flickr.com/photos/shannonkringen/

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    { 11 comments… read them below or add one }

    linda@adventuresinexpatland.com May 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Go and create. There you go. Thanks for cutting through and getting to the heart of the matter


    Marloes | creativity September 30, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Creativity is partly a mindset. Thanks for showing thatcabout creativity in this article!

    Msrloes Prins


    Jill B February 15, 2011 at 11:48 am

    #1 & #5 – We were just talking in my writer’s group the other day about: It’s YOUR story (whether it’s about you or fiction); you must tell it because no one can tell it the way you can.

    Would definitely like to hear more about #3. We’re told to have that “elevator speech” or “30-second commercial” about our project. When *is* it a bad idea to share? Hmm.

    #13 – Did you ever see the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generaltion where Geordi LaForge (the blind man) tried to teach Data (the android) to paint? This reminded me of that. Picturing the auto manufacturing robots painting the Sistine Chapel…


    Mark Levy September 8, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Beautiful post, Joel. In particular, I love statement 5: “No one else can see what you can see, or has ever seen what you are seeing right now. This scene has never existed before and will never exist again.”

    Many people believe that creativity takes wild imagination. That’s true sometimes. At other times, creativity is just recording where you are and who you are — without any embellishment.

    Thanks again for the great post.


    Joel Friedlander September 8, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Mark, it’s a pleasure. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, it’s much appreciated.


    Wicked Sunny September 4, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Really good ways Joel, will keep a note of these to charge my creative cells whenever they are down.


    Joel Friedlander September 4, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Thanks, Sunny. I keep lots of posts like that myself for when the batteries are running low. Thanks for stopping by.


    Vincent Nguyen September 4, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Hi Joel,

    Great list you have here…how is your long weekend so far? :-)

    Another one to add is:
    Don’t be afraid to embrace your “creative” moments…some are afraid, some are lazy and some just do not want to take the time to write it down.
    We are all creative, its just some of us are doers while others procrastinate and then we get them say “I could have thought of that idea”
    Well…then why didn’t you?

    That was actually a longer statement than anticipated Joel.

    Enjoy your long weekend my friend


    Joel Friedlander September 4, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    So far so good, Vincent, we have friends in town. Thanks for your continued contributions.


    Howard Jones September 4, 2010 at 7:27 am

    And another thought for the list: No one ever has “what they need”; work with what you have.


    Joel Friedlander September 4, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Thanks for that one, Howard. Fits right in.


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