(whilst pretending to work)
Although creativity is certainly a slippery concept – that we not only struggle to define, but also to wrestle under our control – happily there still remain practices that many artists share, and which we can adopt – no matter what we do – to help us achieve extraordinary things too.
We can put many of these into practice whilst sitting at our desks pretending to work.
- Think Big and Small
Ernest Hemingway would sometimes spend hours on a single sentence. Not because he was attempting to write the perfect solitary line of text, but because he was trying to make that single sentence successfully link to the one preceding it and seamlessly lead on to the next – while also contributing something to the story.
He was so successful at this method of looking at the wider art work, whilst making sure the detail was beautiful that he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.
- Rob Stuff
Appropriating someone else’s proven ideas is the obvious, inevitable, and sensible place to start anything. The extensive list of creative geniuses queing up to intellectual property theft includes Isaac Newton, who said ‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants’ and Albert Einstein, who commented that ‘creativity is knowing how to show your sources’. So go on, find someone you admire and get ‘inspired’.
- Aim to Fail
When it comes to creativity, failure is as inevitable as it is unavoidable. It is part of the very fabric of making. All artists, regardless of their discipline, aim for perfection – why wouldn’t they? But they know perfection is unobtainable. And therefore they have to accept that everything they produce is doomed to failure to some degree. As Plato argued, the game is rigged.
When artists sit down in their chairs they switch personas. They stop being the creator and turn into a critic. With the temperament of the most fastidious connoisseur, they look at what they have just created and evaluate their efforts. Their hyper-critical eyes scrutinize the work for insincerity, sloppiness and technical mistakes.
- Be Brave
Coco Chanel declared, ‘The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.’ This is what artists do, even though it leaves them exposed. They are, in a way, naked in front of the world, saying, ‘Look at me!’ And they do this when they are not entirely sure what they have produced is any good. Creativity, as Henri Matisse said, ‘takes courage’.