Creativity—You Are Absolutely Unique

by | Sep 17, 2018

I’m getting ready to publish a new book on creativity called Meeting the Muse: 28 Ways to Unlock the Pleasures & Avoid the Pitfalls of Your Creative Life.

This book is not about book publishing, but more about the motives that move us to be creative, as all writers and authors are.

Over my life I’ve had many friends, colleagues, and clients who are creative professionals, and my desire to write this book was, perhaps, to save some younger artists and writers from some of the bad mindsets, wrong thinking, and blocked attempts at creativity.

As the subtitle says, there are 28 separate short chapters in the book, each with a topic statement followed by a discussion of the theme from the topic. Each ends with a quote from someone you might recognize.

To give you a feeling for what this book will be like, here is the first of the 28 sections, with a look at the current cover for the book, designed by James Egan of Bookfly Design. Editing by Sharon Goldinger of PeopleSpeak.

I hope you find it useful. Publication date is not set, but if you’re on my mailing list you’ll find out about it first, along with any “goodies” that accompany the launch.

Do you think much about your own creativity, and how unique your own life experiences are? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

1. You are absolutely unique, and what you have to offer the world cannot possibly be duplicated by anyone else.

Our individuality is the basis for all creativity. For some reason, you and I have a drive to create, to imagine new things, new worlds, new ideas and make them real. Unmistakably, this drive comes from somewhere inside us. But part of the problem we face is that our inner lives are largely unknowable, even to us.

Because of the way we’re made, only a small bit of what we experience makes it into our active awareness. The rest—most of what we can sense about the world—gets submerged under the moment-to-moment demands of our lives.

creativityWe take in a huge amount that never gets into our conscious mind. Unrealized perceptions, intuitive connections, unspoken insights—these all become part of an unknown country, our own unconscious—the “dark side of the moon.”

This is our curse—and our salvation, because in that underground world creativity runs strong, clear, and constant, even if it’s largely unknown. It is ready to come to the surface to be a source of inspiration for your work, for yourself, for your mission here on Earth, if you’re open to it.

We know each of us is unique. Our fingerprints are unique, and the irises of our eyes, too. But that’s simply where our uniqueness starts. Every one of us has a different genetic inheritance from the complex mixing of the DNA of countless generations of ancestors (except those of you with an identical sibling).

Starting there, with our unique genetics, we each embark on our own journey through life, with families uniquely ours. And don’t forget, each of our parents is the result of a similarly complex process. And their parents before them. Think about how much complexity we have been imbued with due to the cascade of generations before us.

So, rest assured, your mix of genetics and personal experience is completely unique to you. And when you add the element of time and realize we ourselves are subject to the laws of constant change, you can see how any moment you are experiencing is a moment only you can experience. In many ways, our art is simply the report we send back of how the world looks to us at any unique moment.

Treasure the uniqueness of now: it will never come again. Even if you try to recapture it, the light will be different, what you ate last night will be different, the scene will have changed, and, above all, you will be different because you have no choice but to keep changing.

Sink into this moment; it is where we truly come alive.

“The trick to creativity, if there is a single useful thing to say about it, is to identify your own peculiar talent and then to settle down to work with it for a good long time.”—Stephen Jay Gould

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Evelyn Krieger

    Hi Joel,

    While I think we all need to be reminded of our unleashed creativity and the unique gifts and experiences we each bring to the world, I wonder what you think about the ancient adage, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” Congrats on your new publication!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Evelyn, I would take that as “human nature never changes” but how that plays out in your life is completely unique.

  2. Joan Stewart

    Joel, your authors who have been on webinars with me might have heard me say that one of the reasons I don’t own a dishwasher is because scraping gunk off the bottom of a casserole dish, as I’m up to my elbows in soapy water, gets my creative juices flowing.

    It isn’t just me. There’s actual science behind this. Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and conservationist, has explored the connection between humans and water. He calls it “blue mind,” the mildly meditative state that opens our minds to creative ideas when we’re exposed to water.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Joan, your story of being spurred to creativity by being around water—including washing the dishes—made it into the book!

  3. Sally Fletcher

    What I’ve read so far is fascinating. I can hardly wait to read the entire book. It’s not always easy choosing which talents and which passions to pursue – without becoming a starving artist. Writing in a journal for over a year helped me to realize what I’d known all along. I woke up very early one morning, turned over, picked up my journal and wrote, “I’ve known since I was four years old that I was meant to be a musician in this lifetime.” Now as a successful harpist with eight CD’s, I’m glad I listened to my inner voice and realized my uniqueness.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Sally, having listened to your wonderful CDs, it’s amazing to me that you had to “discover” your calling that way. Glad you did.

  4. Lisa Tener

    It’s wonderful to see the muse getting its due, Joel. And your chapter on uniqueness offers a message we all need to hear! It’s so easy to lose oneself in comparison, the bane of creativity, an exercise that leads nowhere. With 28 exercises that lead somewhere (and to many somewheres) this book will surely be a needed antidote to all the self-doubt writers and other creatives experience.
    I hope it’s not too forward, but I’ve been sharing a guided visualization exercise with audiences, students and private clients for well over a dozen years that I call “Meet your Muse.” My recording of it here is just on a phone, so nothing fancy, but it may be a lovely complement to your new book and support to your readers! Here is the link:

    • Joel Friedlander

      That’s lovely Lisa, thanks for offering your visualization to share with readers, I’ll find somewhere to link to it.

  5. Yvonne Hertzberger

    I try to remember this when I read the work of someone else I admire. I often feel mine is not up to snuff when it really only means it is different, as my fans will assure me.

    • Joel Friedlander

      It’s really pernicious to find yourself subject to “comparison-itis” and I think that’s exactly because we each have such a unique contribution to make. Listen to your fans!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Michael, that’s a great connection, thanks.

  6. Ernie Zelinski

    Below are my favorite quotations about creativity. Following these words of wisdom have resulted my finally having achieved selling over 1,000,000 copies of my books worldwide.

    “If you follow the crowd, you will likely get no further than the crowd. If you walk alone, you’re likely to end up in places no one has ever been before. Being an achiever is not without its difficulties, for peculiarity breeds contempt. The unfortunate thing about being ahead of your time is that when people finally realize you were right, they’ll simply say it was obvious to everyone all along. You have two choices in life. You can dissolve into the main stream, or you can choose to become an achiever and be distinct. To be distinct, you must be different. To be different, you must strive to be what no else but you can be.”
    — Alan Ashley-Pitt

    “The great creative individual . . . is capable of more wisdom and virtue than collective man ever can be.”
    — John Stuart Mill

    “We know that the nature of genius is to provide idiots with ideas twenty years later.”
    — Louis Aragon

    “The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.”
    — Mark Twain

    “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
    — Albert Einstein

    “Creativity varies inversely with the number of cooks involved in the broth.”
    — Bernice Fitz-Gibbon

    “The good ideas are all hammered out in agony by individuals, not spewed out by groups.”
    — Charles Bower

    “Expressing what you are is taking action. You can have many great ideas in your head, but what makes the difference is the action. Without action upon an idea, there will be no manifestation, no results, no reward.”
    – from “The Four Agreements” by Miguel Angel Ruiz

    “To rebel in season is not to rebel.”
    — Greek Proverb

    “Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.”
    — George Bernard Shaw

    “You are always alone as a creator.”
    — Arkadi Kuhlman, Founder of Ing Direct and Ing.Us

    “It’s easy to live the expected and conventional. It’s when you live the unexpected that you start having fun with your life.”
    — from “Messiah’s Handbook” by Richard Bach

    “Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.”
    — Norman Vincent Peale

    • Joel Friedlander

      Congratulations, Ernie, that’s fantastic. Would love to have an article from you sometime if you’re so inclined on what’s propelled your sales!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *