“A New Way to Think About Creativity” or at least a break from that fear that you’re actually pretty commonplace

29Mar09

“What if I’m not really a writer? Everything I’ve tried to write, all of these weeks, waiting for the book to come out…I don’t know. I’ve got to come up with something bigger than myself, you know? Outside of myself. I’ve got to get out of the suburbs. I need to get away from people my own age…. It all seems so small now, so puny…. You name it, I’ve told it all. Crammed everything I know into a mere hundred-and-eighty-six pages, and that’s with title pages and like a large-print-edition typeface that I find really embarrassing. It’s pathetic. I looted my diaries for tasty morsels. My frenzied, angst-ridden, adolescent jottings: I stole whole chunks.”

Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk on “A New Way to Think About Creativity” immediately reminded me of this passage from Donald Margulies’s play, Collected Stories. Before I was ever in this industry, I grew up acting in theater (here and The Maine Shakespeare Festival) and performed this passage at my Juilliard audition during my senior year of high school. It seemed particularly appropriate at the time as I was in the throws of my own little “What if I’m not really an actor after all?” stage. I was surprised to see that the feeling any creative feels as they scrape the seemingly bottom of the barrel for ideas and inspiration, regularly confronts all of us in the communications industry as well. 

I listened to her talk on an early walk to work after a particularly hard week and it was a nice break from that gnawing fear that you’ve “looted your diaries” or thousands of feeds, or tapped your entire team for “tasty morsels” and still can’t find what you’re racking your whole self to discover…. A break from a feeling that’s only amplified by following hundreds of creative talents on the Web who seem to effortlessly spew fresh ideas in rapid fire 140 character posts on a daily basis. 

-Amanda Mooney

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