Habits are fine, but do you have the imperfections necessary for true creativity?
VICE THREE: PUT GAMBLING FIRST
Gambling is at the heart of every worthwhile accomplishment in life. Consequently, vice three is essential for the success of your creativity. Instinctively, the highly creative person knows that nothing matters except the throw of the dice. As the French say, “There are two great pleasures in gambling: that of winning and that of losing.” Or, in the words of Mark Twain, “There are two times in a man’s life when he should [gamble]: when he can’t afford it and when he can.” These are vital lessons.
Social psychologists have discovered in recent years that one way to increase creativity is by inducing a state of psychological distance.
This research has important practical implications. It suggests that there are several simple steps we can all take to increase creativity, such as traveling to faraway places (or even just thinking about such places), thinking about the distant future, communicating with people who are dissimilar to us, and considering unlikely alternatives to reality. Perhaps the modern environment, with its increased access to people, sights, music, and food from faraway places, helps us become more creative not only by exposing us to a variety of styles and ideas, but also by allowing us to think more abstractly.
On the long list of books I would read if I had the time for such a thing, reading, is Art & Fear. Ted Orland, one of the authors and a working artist himself, describes the book thusly:
This is a book about the way art gets made, the reasons it often doesn’t get made, and about the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way.
Kevin Kelly called the book “astoundingly brilliant” and pulled this excellent excerpt from it.
The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
Special heads-up to Merlin Mann: the first book in the Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought list for Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit that you’ve been going on and on about is, bum bum bum, Art & Fear. You should maybe 1-click that sucker right into your book-hole. (via modcult)
Elizabeh Gilbert talks about how to keep being creative in the face of success. In particular, she mentions erecting a “protective pyschological construct to protect you from the results of your work”.
And just so you don’t end up wondering about it for half the talk like I did, Melissa Gilbert played Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. Elizabeth Gilbert is a writer. (via john hodgman)
“The Rolling Stones weren’t original. Bach wasn’t original. Einstein wasn’t original. Show me someone who is original, creative, self-expressive, and I’ll show you someone who is boring.” Pop Idol judges understand Plato
The fashion industry doesn’t try to control its creativity the way that the music and film industries do. “The fashion world recognizes that creativity cannot be bridled and controlled and that obsessive quests to do so will only diminish its vitality. Other content industries would do well to heed this wisdom.”
The Pixar model of making creative products: “We’ve made the leap from an idea-centered business to a people-centered business. Instead of developing ideas, we develop people. Instead of investing in ideas, we invest in people. We’re trying to create a culture of learning, filled with lifelong learners. It’s no trick for talented people to be interesting, but it’s a gift to be interested. We want an organization filled with interested people.” Pixar University sounds *amazing*.
Twelve ways to think differently. “Twelve methods that will exercise parts of your brain that rarely get it, and make you more creative and better able to understand the world.”