I listened to a talk on NPR today by Elizabeth Gilbert. She wrote the book Eat Pray Love and I admit I may be the only person on earth that hadn’t read it, so I’ll get that out of the way.
She was talking about creativity and a unique concept of where it comes from… All to plug her new book, Big Magic. Creative Living Beyond Fear.
And who knows, I probably won’t read that one either. Any spare time I have is usually spent writing or working on a creative project. Or wasted completely, hooked on some serial on Netflix.
But back to her point. Where does creativity come from? How can we be more creative? How can creative thinking improve our lives?
Something in her conversation stuck in my mind. Enough so, that I got home, looked up the talk online and listened again… And figured I’d write about it.
She mentioned an ancient concept that ideas are out there. Floating around. Elusive. Waiting for the right person to find them, take them along and make them happen.
What a bizarre thought. Our ideas, our creative may not originate within our own minds. These ideas (both good and bad) are just out there and if we’re good at being human radar dishes, we’ll pick them up and give them life.
I love it.
Who the hell knows if that’s got anything to do with reality, but I think there has to be a little truth to it.
She mentioned a book idea she was working on and one day, she lost it. It just got bored with her and left. Then a few years later, another writer that she’d befriended wrote the book. Same plot, plot twists, characters… The same damned book.
So she thinks that if the idea chooses you and you blow it or take too long or just can’t manage to pull it off, it’ll go to someone else. How many times have we all had ideas that we never quite pulled off, then some time later someone actually DOES pull it off. Usually they make millions and we get pissed off about it. But maybe there is a level of kismet there that we’ve all been missing.
I’m in the business of ideas. I’ve made my living, seen the world, fed my family, put my kids through school, lived a decent life and had a great deal of fun all on ideas. Did I create them out of nothing from random electrical impulses in a mis-wired brain, or was I open to picking up the signals floating through space?
Damned if I know. But I do think for someone in my business, you have to be a big radar dish.
If you’re going to build a brand for someone, understand their unique offering, understand the audience and their needs, then you have to be a walking radar dish. You have to pick up all those little vibrations that nobody else notices.
She mentioned the word genius as well. The ancient Greeks saw genius as an independent spirit that lived with us and slipped in to inspire us, or wandered off and ignored us.
Think about it. Do you have the potential to be a creative genius? How can you get more creative thinking into your life? Will it help?
On one hand, I hope not. If everyone was so tuned into picking up all the great ideas floating around, I’d be out of a job. But if we all opened up a bit to letting those ideas in, maybe the world would end up being a little better place.
How can we tune in to get those Big Ideas just looking for us? There are a lot of theories there but in my life, I’ve got a method.
Get exhausted. And distracted. And keep an open mind.
I learned back in college that I usually didn’t start my projects till the last minute because, well, college. So I’d stay up all night waiting for The Idea to come to me. And sure enough, somewhere between exhaustion and insanity, it’d hit. I’d flesh it out and sell it. So for me being exhausted and distracted, open to anything and realizing I HAD to have something brilliant delivered something brilliant.
After so many years of having to make something out of nothing, I’ve got it down to a science and instead of asking for weeks to do something, I’ll do it in a day or two. And now that I realize there is a remote possibility that the great ideas are already out there, just waiting for some idiot with a good antenna to pick them up. That actually makes the process seem a little easier.
You don’t have to HAVE the ideas… You just have to let them in.
So follow her advice. Eat. Pray. And let the big ideas in.
Or hire me. That’s actually a better idea.