Creativity Winks.

I’m writing this as I ride a bus on my way to a bookstore in San Francisco, where I’ll be picking up my own copy of Creativity Inc. 

The book is written by Ed Catmull, who you may know as Pixar’s current President, along with Amy Wallace.

It’s a book about creative leadership, or to be more specific, creating an environment that allows people to create. And maybe not just create, but be incredibly creative. You can imagine why Catmull has the authority to write such a book, considering he’s been in charge of one of the most creative companies in the world (and not only when it comes to movies).

creativity winks
You can click the image to purchase the book for yourself and/or read reviews.

So I’m pretty excited to get my hands on the book, as I’m sure it will provide valuable insights into how I can foster a creative environment for myself. Which is why I’m writing this post and titling it “Creativity Winks.”

Because I certainly can’t lend anything as credible or even profound as Catmull or anyone else in Pixar’s leadership. But before I inundate myself with the wisdom of the experts, I do want to share with you my takeaway about what it means to be creative.

And that’s just it right there. Being creative is missing the point entirely. Everyone is creative, especially about things they care about. Some people try to say that “creativity” is being inspiring when it comes to a topic they aren’t passionate about. But that’s definitely not it either (they’re just confusing skill and empathy with originality).

Creativity winks at us. Our minds (depending on who you are) flash brilliant moments of incredible originality almost routinely. It’s just up to us to play those moments out. Or save them for later.

That moment when a catchy tune gets caught in my head – and I realize I’m the one who thought it up – is a “wink” of creativity that will be lost forever in a matter of minutes. Unless I take out my phone and record my humming. A few days later, I’m figuring out the chords for a new ukulele song I’m writing (yes, this is a true story).

Creativity also winks at me when I write fiction. Some of you may follow along with my serial novel, The Pixar Detective, and I’ve been asked routinely how I come up with the story and characters on such a consistent, uninterrupted basis.

Well I’m certain that if I tried to write an entire chapter of The Pixar Detective in one sitting, I’d produce something that isn’t my best work. And that’s because it takes time for flashes of creativity to arrive. For some of us, it can take hours, days, or even weeks.

What I’ve found, though, is that the frequency in which these “winks” arrive is progressively increased as we apply those ideas when they do come.

In other words: the more you create, the more creative you will become. It’s a simple, but hopelessly ignored concept.

So creativity winks at us. And I’ve learned from experience that some of the most brilliant ideas we can come up with are as fleeting as they are wonderful. But if you take the time to write them down and play them out, you’ll immediately set yourself apart.

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Be Pickier About What You Write

This isn’t a commandment, since you can obviously do whatever you want. Still, I can’t help but advocate for more selective writing among my likeminded peers.

No one is great at every type of writing. They may at least be decent at every type of writing, but no one absolutely excels at every single type of outlet there is for the written word, and if I’m wrong about that, please guide me to that person so that I can be their lifelong disciple.

My example is that I hate writing novels or even short stories. It’s odd because I love coming up with ideas, settings, and fleshing out characters. I love coming up with unique plot devices that bring a story together and present something completely new and exciting to the reader. When it comes to actually writing out the story, however, I can’t do it. I can’t find the filler details and craft a rich, cohesive story. I’m just too impatient.

I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to ignore this flaw by believing that if I just put more effort into it, I’ll eventually just teach myself to like writing novels. That’s almost as absurd as how that sentence sounded in my head.

A problem we run into as writers is that  we can’t help but get excited by our own work. We take pride in our accomplishments because for us, the epitome of who we are is translated best by how we can translate that for other people. When we’re successful, we don’t want to just share it with the world. What makes us different is that we constantly want to get better.

We push ourselves. We experiment. We do whatever it takes to not just master what we’re already good at, but excel at types of writing that don’t come as easy. There is nothing wrong with this at first, but here’s the problem:

when we focus too much on evolving, we stagnate.

It’s counterintuitive, but our pride easily becomes arrogance when we decide that since we are good at one type of writing, we must be “God’s gift to writing,” when really, we’ve just gotten lucky and haven’t really reached the threshold of clarity we believe we’ve reached.

In my case, I can’t write novels because I’m too impatient and I can’t write for the media because I am too biased. This is the reason I chose Public Relations as a career, since I can be as biased as I want with a press release, and writing advertising copy is a challenge I welcome every day.

So, be pickier about what you write. Before you decide to delve into the harrows of a new medium such as journalism, advocate communications, or even a screenplay, figure out what you need to do to hone the craft you already own. A master of everything is a master of nothing and all that.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. 

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 


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