“Every creative person is insecure…. I’ve never met someone who is creative who doesn’t have doubts. If you don’t have any self-doubt, you never move forward. You can’t be self-satisfied and do good work…. What I’m trying to say is that it’s crucial not to believe your own press.”—Dominic Cooke: a life in theatre | Culture | The Guardian
Creative play is the gateway not to time-wasting but to times that let you contact deeper realms. When you paint a canvas or play the piano, you’re in a creative improvisation that calls on inner fortitude and commitment and that reflect your values through self-expression. Creativity satisfies…
Psychologists believe that no one is born with any particular talent and that all skill is gained through practice. Studies have shown that masters are simply people who’ve practised a skill intensely for 10,000 hours or more. That requires loving — not liking, loving — what you do. If you really want to excel, go where you’re passionate enough to practice.
“We do this sort of miscalculation all the time at work….. We avoid the hard work on the long-term project in order to panic and rush about to avoid the possible vivid, immediate and personal risk on the short-term project, even if it’s far less important.”—Seth’s Blog: Misjudging risk (and bad decisions)
In many organisations there’s a political dimension to the productivity ethos — people are anxious to ‘look busy’ in front of their boss and colleagues. Anything else looks lazy and unprofessional. Creativity is seen as something silly and a little childish, to be confined to creative thinking sessions, preferably held off-site.
All of which can put you as a creative professional in a difficult position. You know that sometimes working harder is the least productive thing you can do. Chatting in a cafe, strolling in the park or otherwise doing nothing will yield much better results — yet I’ve even come across creative agencies where the creatives complain that they have to be at their desks 9-5 or risk the wrath of their supervisor!
Creative director Simon Veksner summed it up in the original tagline of his blog Scamp:
” When you see me staring out the window, that’s when I’m working.”
Lee Hall has written a great piece of the absence of any deep thinking by the ConDem government’s ideological obsession with cutting spending come what may.
"Not one commercial show is made without talent fostered in the subsidised sector. The dominance of British talent in musicals around the world, from Mamma Mia! to the Lloyd Webbers, have all been dependent on people who learned their craft writing, directing, designing and acting in tiny theatres for less than subsistence wages. Yet in VAT on the West End alone the government makes more than the entire subsidy to theatre. It is just economically illiterate not to understand that theatre effectively pays for itself many, many times over. The economic argument is unassailable. If you are trying to deal with a fiscal deficit, you do not cut off the hand that feeds you. So, clearly, something else is going on. I am not suggesting, by the way, that the Tories are not economically illiterate – their stubborn insistence on acting as if Keynes had never existed is a tragedy for us all. But that tragedy has a specific shape, and in this instance it comes in the shape of class war."
If we want to face up to our mistakes more regularly, then we need to change the way we think about them. If we see them as proof of our own incompetence, we will continue to puff out our chests and pretend they aren’t there. Is there a different way?
Error is an essential step in the process of finding the right answer. Every scientist leaves behind a trail of disproven hypotheses and papers shot to pieces by colleagues. He doesn’t see them as shameful, but as part of a process that was bringing him closer to the truth through experimentation. Similarly, James Joyce, thinking about all the drafts he wrote that failed, said, “a man’s errors are his portals of discovery”.
“You must become indispensable to thrive in the new economy. The best ways to do that are to be remarkable, insightful, an artist, someone bearing gifts. To lead. The worst way is to conform and become a cog in a giant system.”—Seth Godin
FAIL OFTEN: Ideas that challenge the status quo. Proposals. Brainstorms. Concepts that open doors.
FAIL FREQUENTLY: Prototypes. Spreadsheets. Sample ads and copy.
FAIL OCCASIONALLY: Working mockups. Playtesting sessions. Board meetings.
FAIL RARELY: Interactions with small groups of actual users and customers.
FAIL NEVER: Keeping promises to your constituents.
The thing is, in their rush to play it safe and then their urgency to salvage everything in the face of an emergency, most organizations do precisely the opposite. They throw their customers or their people under the bus (“we had no choice”) but rarely take the pro-active steps necessary to fail quietly, and often, in private, in advance, when there’s still time to make things better.
"I hate trying to re-create a tone or a pitch. Saying, ‘I want to make it sound like I made it sound the last time’? That’s insane, because the last time doesn’t exist. It’s only this time. And everything is going to be different this time. There’s only now. And I don’t think a director, as often as not, knows what is going to play funny anyway. As often as not, the right one is the one that they’re surprised by, so I don’t think that they have the right tone in their head. And I think that good actors always—or if you’re being good, anyway—you’re making it better than the script. That’s your fucking job. It’s like, Okay, the script says this? Well, watch this. Let’s just roar a little bit. Let’s see how high we can go.
But you asked how you get the comic pitch. Well, obviously a lot of it is rhythm. And as often as not, it’s the surprising rhythm. In life and in movies, you can usually guess what someone is going to say—you can actually hear it—before they say it. But if you undercut that just a little, it can make you fall off your chair. It’s small and simple like that. You’re always trying to get your distractions out of the way and be as calm as you can be [breathes in and out slowly], and emotion will just drive the machine. It will go through the machine without being interrupted, and it comes out in a rhythm that’s naturally funny. And that funny rhythm is either humorous or touching. It can be either one. But it’s always a surprise. I really don’t know what’s going to come out of my mouth.”
Your endless droning on about nothing, the endless tedium that is your career…
Well, it makes the CEO of your employer rich, but does little else.
Surrounding yourself with the overpriced, plastic baubles you learned about from TV, like anyone actually cares.
And you’re raising your kids the same way, raising them to be the same fine specimen of nowheresville. Lucky them.
You are boring. You are boredom. And that’s what you peddle.
Every day. To anyone who is desperate enough to listen.
An empty life, followed by an equally empty death.
Fuck y’all and good riddance.
My definition of “Mediocrity” is: A Triumvirate of small minds, smaller hearts and even smaller deeds. Usually with some lame-ass, entitlement power trip going on. One rarely has to look very hard to find it; it’s everywhere.
"I once read an interview with musician John Mayer where he said something like “Even if your songs are bad or you don’t like them, write them down. You’re not a song writer if you don’t write songs.” I think writing down your thoughts and ideas is very similar. It doesn’t matter what you’re idea is; if you don’t do anything with it, then you might as well stop thinking. This is the first step to doing something with those thoughts, and letting yourself think more freely."
“Creativity is akin to insanity, say scientists who have been studying how the mind works. Brain scans reveal striking similarities in the thought pathways of highly creative people and those with schizophrenia. Both groups lack important receptors used to filter and direct thought. It could be this uninhibited processing that allows creative people to “think outside the box”, say experts from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute. In some people, it leads to mental illness. But rather than a clear division, experts suspect a continuum, with some people having psychotic traits but few negative symptoms.
Some of the world’s leading artists, writers and theorists have also had mental illnesses – the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and American mathematician John Nash (portrayed by Russell Crowe in the film A Beautiful Mind) to name just two. Creativity is known to be associated with an increased risk of depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Similarly, people who have mental illness in their family have a higher chance of being creative. Associate Professor Fredrik Ullen believes his findings could help explain why.”
We make a difference to other people when we give gifts to them, when we bring emotional labour to the table and do work that matters. It’s hard for me to imagine that this is only available to a few. Yes, the cards are unfairly stacked against too many people. Yes, there’s too many barriers and not enough support. But no, your ability to create and contribute isn’t determined at birth. It’s a choice.
“I made a significant decision when I was young that I have never regretted. Simply put, I decided that I did not have to live my life like everyone else. I would live my own life. I would pursue things of lasting value rather than the newest fads of society chased by everyone else.”—
I had been reading Don Miller’s new book …… Among other things, Don says that meaningful lives do not just happen by accident. They require conflict, risk, striving, and overcoming. A good character in a story has to struggle, and so it is with all of us.
That’s why I think it’s good to embrace the transition points. Don’t go to sleep to dream. You can dream all day long without ever closing your eyes.
In an increasingly infantilised world where so much seems to be split into good or bad, correct or incorrect, acceptable or unacceptable, where complex ideas are chopped up for public consumption like food chopped up for a child, where so much is hygienic, attainable, safe, sugared, assimilable, digestible, pasteurised, homogenised and sanitised, in such a world our appetite has never been greater for the complex, the ambiguous, the challenging, the untamed, the sharp, the peculiar, the surprising, the dangerous, the dirty, the difficult, the untameable, the elusive, the unsafe and the unknowable. In other words, for art.
“I’m sure you have all heard that email is dead, but I beg to differ. For me, email is still the biggest form of communication and I often tell people to email, and not to call me. With the phone, I feel like your obligated to reply or answer the phone call. With email, you can save it for later, and reply at your convenience.”—email
“Working to let go of the pace around you and creating your own speed takes time and should be attempted in small, incremental steps. Begin by giving yourself permission to slow down. This may seem like a no brainer, but many people believe they don’t have permission to slow down. You do. Whenever life seems to move too fast, take a deep breathe.”—