My working definition of creativity is “the application of accumulated experiences to the development and expression of original thought.” Creativity, unsurprisingly, is a tricky concept to nail down. I think an unfortunate symptom of the internet era is that people increasingly seem to believe that creativity is a fixed aspect of a person’s personality. Some people are creative, and all the other people are incapable of producing a single original thought. Either you’ve got it, or not. Part of the reason I love Steal Like an Artist so much is because it does an amazing job of dispelling that idea, via the word of some of the greatest creative minds in the last several hundred years, and the impeccable style of one Austin Kleon. The truth is that great artists steal, and that everything under the sun has been said before. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t have original thoughts. The originality comes from synthesizing what you learn from your peers, those that came before, and your own creative process into something just a bit tiny different. Just like my definition, it’s a work in process.
Confidence is a fundamental skill for writers. My English teacher in high school used to love to say “if you aren’t confident in what you write, no one will be.” People too often are caught up in what their perception will be. We’re either too afraid to put what we wrote out there, or else alter what we write in order to fit in with whatever’s proper because we’re afraid of rejection and ridicule. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to remember to “write the book you want to read.” If you’re writing a novel, write about what you like. If you’re writing a memo to your boss, write with the professional courtesy that you would prefer to receive in a memo directed to you. If you’re writing a blog post, write what you really think, not what you think others want to hear!
Man oh man, how I wish I knew the answer to this question. Or maybe it’s the case that I know the answer, but have no evidence to support that answer, having no particularly great amount of success myself. How does one build confidence? In our abilities as writers, and in general? It’s a bit cliché, but honestly: fake it ’till you make it. I loved Kleon’s thoughts on this little phrase. Oh, you don’t know what you’re doing? Well guess what, bucko, nobody else does either. There are a few specific things you can do as well that Kleon mentioned. Literally pretending to be something you’re not (yet) stood out to me. I honestly think that roleplaying may be the most efficient method of building confidence available to us. I’m a big fan of Brennan Lee Mulligan, who some of you may know from College Humor. He amazes me with all the crazy improvisational performing work he does. I’ve read that he got his skills from playing Dungeons & Dragons, giving voice and spirit to wandering wizards, brutish barbarians, and cunning rouges. Kids are oft recognized as creative too, and they play pretend all the time. Maybe we should all try to rediscover the kids within ourselves, and forget about what other people think every once in a while.
I love, in no particular order, science fiction, fantasy, working, football, skiing, dessert, talking, games, and sleeping. In the interest of my passion for sleep, I’ll keep this brief: I can incorporate my various interests into my work by making them be my work when possible. If that’s not possible, I’ll use them as tools for productive procrastination, to keep me fresh when I have to go back and work on the stuff I care less about.
What are some good pieces of advice I want to take away from this book? See above. Do I disagree with anything said in the book? Nope! Goodnight everybody, I hope you all have a great weekend. Stay positive, and get creative!