We’ve been conditioned to believe that artists are born, not made. That genius musicians, writers, and painters have a god-given gift that the rest of us “normals” will never see. But what if that wasn’t true?
In his book Zig Zag, Sawyer argues that everyone could be as creative as the greatest artists and inventors if only they practiced the act of creativity. He argues that productivity comes first.
“No matter what kind of creativity I studied, the process was the same. Creativity did not descend like a bolt of lightning that lit up the world in a single, brilliant flash. It came in tiny steps, bits of insight, and incremental changes. Zigs and zags.” – Keith Sawyer
This is not such a wild idea. Why else would there be so many writing prompts, warm-ups and stream of consciousness exercises out there? They exist to get you started. They exist because ideas take time. And all of those geniuses, for every good idea, hundreds of theirs were awful.
A while ago I did an experiment. I attempted to come up for an idea for a novel once a day for thirty days. A lot of them were bad… but a few were pretty good. I had to go through the bad ones to get to the good ones. Productivity first.
I’ve been holding on to those ideas, debating which one to choose. Which one to explore. But who says I have to choose just one?
They are constantly generating ideas, and then constantly examining them. In a given month, they might start fresh ten times, while more mediocre minds stick like glue to their very first idea, afraid that it’s so fragile it will crumple under criticism… Real creativity is resilient. – Keith Sawyer
Never mind left brain v. right brain. Never mind inspiration. Never mind the muse. Sit down and write.
Then write some more.