You Are More Creative Than You Think

Let's take a break from stealing from Mary Oliver and have a book report.

As I work on Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy, I naturally have read other writers' books on the creative process, mostly so I can approach an agent or publisher with a firm grasp of the competition in the market but also to see if my slipshod philosophy actually covers all the bases.  (So far, it does.)

One of the easier reads has been The Art of Creative Thinking, by Rod Judkins.  In it, he writes short, 2–3 page essays on various aspects of the creative process.  Each shares some aspect of the creative process, some problem that each of us encounters in our quest to Make the Thing That Is Not, and tells how some well-known person worked his/her way through it.

At the bottom of each essay, there's a little blurb: Disagree? turn to p. 83 or Want more about xxx? turn to p. 102.  I assume that if you followed each directive, like a choose-your-own-adventure book, you'd eventually cycle through all the essays (or come to some unfortunate—yet creative—end...)

It's not a bad little book, entertainingly written, and certainly in the spirit of Lichtenbergianism in that it relentlessly tells you that you are in fact creative and breaks down your objections.

Here, from p. 113, if you can't be really good, be really bad, which talks about one of Lichtenbergianism's heroes, Ed Wood:

The world is full of people who dedicate their lives to seeking approval.  They chase after vindication from others and lose themselves in the process.  They try to produce something that earns kudos rather than something they really enjoy.  Aiming for critical credibility or commercial success can be vastly more limiting than relying on passion and enthusiasm, the engine that powers creativity.

There are a couple of Lichtenbergian points here.  The first is AUDIENCE: as Art & Fear reminds us, MOMA is not our audience.  We are our own first audience, followed by the other minds out there in the universe like our own.  As the Sufi mystic Abu Sa'id Abul-Khayr says, "Though one be in the East and other in the West, they still feel joy and comfort in each other's talk, and one who lives in a later generation than the other is instructed and consoled by the words of his friend."  Create for those people.

The other point is that the twin monsters of #CommercialSuccess and #NeverGonnaBeMozart are illusions that guarantee our failure if we allow them to become real for us.  I write about this in one of the first chapters of Lichtenbergianism, that our modern world has flooded us with readily available perfection to the extent that we think every product, every performance, every thing we want to create ourselves, must be as perfect as the bestsellers we read or the music we hear.


As another Sufi mystic, the immortal Rumi, says:

Now call out commands yourself.
You are the king. Phrase your question,
and expect the grace of an answer.
      (Rumi: bridge to the soul, trans. Coleman Barks)


Feel free to leave comments on this or any other post!