Mark McGuinness writes about Why Creative Thinking Doesn’t Cut It

Editor’s note: That is one heckuva title, isn’t it? That and the following was written by Mark McGuinness on 9/22/2008 and I loved it.

I shortened this a bit. Go look at the long form on his very own site, but here is the main nugget, which I get a kick out of:

Photo by timsnell

There’s a saying that we all have a book inside us. It’s a lie.

Just ask any X-ray technician.

Now, if that saying has motivated you to actually sit down and start writing your book (or making your film or building your prototype or starting your company) all well and good, no harm done. But if you’ve been telling it to yourself for years, saying it’s just a matter of time and space, and ‘one day’ you’ll get round to writing it, then stop right now.

It’s a dangerous fantasy that’s blocking your creativity.

It’s dangerous because it suggests that the essence of creativity lies in an intangible idea – which is somehow already safe and sound inside us, with no use-by date. Many of us associate the word ‘creativity’ with lateral thinking, brainstorming, and thinking ‘outside the box’.

But even in the novelist’s garret and the sculptor’s studio, creativity is a business of toil and struggle. Every time we tell ourselves there’s a book already inside us, we’re taking someone else’s hard work for granted.

…Here’s Roger von Oech, one of the greatest living authorities on creative thinking:

the world isn’t set up to accommodate every new idea that comes along. As a matter of fact, there’s a lot of competition out there. If you want your idea to succeed, you’ll have to take the offensive. So, you become a Warrior and take your idea into action. (A Whack on the Side of the Head)

Creative vision and flashes of inspiration are all very well, but they are worse than useless unless you actually do something with your ideas. What separates real creators from daydreaming amateurs is their willingness to roll up their sleeves and get on with the hard work of creativity.

About the Author: Mark McGuinness is a poet, creative coach and co-founder of Lateral Action. Get to know Mark better on Twitter

3 replies »

  1. Often times I think of all the things I should be doing and want to do, yet I don’t do any of them…discipline IS the key and I appreciate this reminder.

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