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Blog // Thoughts
January 29, 2008

The Creative Lifestyle

In a sense creativity is my job. So how to maximise creativity?

In Applying Creativity To Your Professional Life Etc. – Hugh adds some fantastic insights into creativity as a profession.

I had no life in my 20’s. Get used to the same. While my peers were partying or zoning out to TV sitcoms, after work I’d head for the coffee shop or the bar, and crank out cartoons until bedtime. Sure, I must have looked a real lonely old saddo, sitting there doodling away in the corner by myself, but at the time I didn’t really care. I really enjoyed doing it, plus I knew I was on to something. Besides, the typical twentysomething TV-and-Budweiser-enhanced nighttime existence didn’t interest me too much. Tis more blessed to make than to consume etc.

Creativity as a vocation is far less glamourous than people imagine it to be. This quote, from Working In Close on 43 Folders, highlights this.

And, sorry, all those romantic notions you have of absinthe spoons, manic episodes and Kerouac-like rambling on a long roll of butcher paper really aren’t operative. Creative work is mostly showing up every day and enduring a million tiny failures as you feel your way to something a bit new.

All too often, creativity (like talent) is approached as something innate, or as some kind of dark art. The reality, from all the people I know who sustain careers in creativity, is that creativity is seldom less than hard work. The creative lifestyle is often a romanticised lie. There’s a big difference between what people do to cope with failure and what people do to find inspiration.

It’s a message that comes through clearly from reading Paul Johnson’s book Creators: From Chaucer and Durer to Picasso and Disney. Each case that Johnson studies reveals a different personality, temperament and approach. But what comes through time and again is the hard work involved in being creative, the relentless drive to face up to challenges and the enormous sacrifices that creators make to achieve their work.

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