Tag: creativity (page 1 of 6)

Aimless wandering in search of the unknown catalyst

It might not be too much of a stretch to describe Edward Snowden as a hero of mine. I’m not sure what he’s still doing in Russia, but the moral conviction it took to do what he did is staggering.

He writes in exile through a newsletter which is well worth subscribing to. In his most recent missive, he talks about lacking what he calls “origination energy”. On a much smaller level and more insignificant level, I lack this too — especially at this time of year.

So as the young people say, I feel seen.

Edward Snowden poster

For a long time now, I’ve wanted to write to you, but found myself unable. Not from illness—although that came and went—but because I refuse to put something in your inbox that I feel isn’t worth your time.

The endless stream of events that the world provides to remark upon has the tendency to take on an almost physical weight, and robs me of what I can only describe as origination energy: the creative spark that empowers us not simply to do something, but to do something new. Without it, even the best of what I can produce feels derivative and workmanlike—good enough for government, perhaps, but not good enough for you.

I suspect you may know a similar struggle—you can tell me how you fight it below, if you like—but my only means for overcoming it is an aimless wandering in search of the unknown catalyst that might help me to refill my emptied well. Where once I might have had a good chance of walking away inspired by the empathy I felt while watching a sad, sad film, achieving such inspiration feels harder now, somehow. I have to search farther, and wander longer, across centuries of painting and music until at last, when passing by a dumpster, yesterday’s internet comment might suddenly pop into my head and blossom there, as if a poem. The thing—the artifact itself—doesn’t matter, so much as what it does for me—it enlivens me.

This, to me, is art.

Source: Cultural Revolutions | Edward Snowden

Image CC BY-NC-ND: Antonio Marín Segovia

Precrastinators, procrastinators, and originals

A really handy TED talk focusing on ‘precrastinators’ (with whom I definitely identify) and how they differ from procrastinators and what Grant calls ‘originals’ in terms of creativity.

(I always watch these kinds of things at 1.5x speed, but Adam Grant already talks quickly!)

Source: The surprising habits of original thinkers | Adam Grant

Blissed, Blessed, Pissed, and Dissed

Austin Kleon summarises Bill O’Hanlon’s idea around there being ‘four energies’ that writers can dig into. They may need translating for a British audience (‘pissed’ means something different over here…) but I like it as an organising idea.

Related: Buster Benson’s ‘Seven Modes (for seven heads)’ from his seminal post Live like a hydra.

The energies are split between “what you love and what upsets you”:

  • “Blissed” energy comes from what you’re on fire for and can’t stop doing.
  • “Blessed” means you’ve been gifted something that you feel compelled to share.
  • “Pissed” means you’re pissed off or angry about something.
  • “Dissed” means you feel “dissatisfied or disrespected.”

O’Hanlon goes on to say many of his early books were “written from a combination of pissed and blissed.”

Source: The Four Energies | Austin Kleon