There’s an elaborate struggle that comes with creativity: people usually feel the need to self-identify as “creative” or “non-creative” people. And once you self-identify as a creative person or not, it can be easy to get stuck in creativity loops and it’s impossible to ever get anything meaningful done. So what if you “self-identify” as a “creative” person and that incredible “lightbulb” idea never comes? Or what if you never push yourself to come up with something life-changing because you once defined yourself as a “non-creative” and it held you back?
The problem with creativity, according to successful entrepreneur Allen Gannett in an exclusive for BookClub.com (join our beta here and learn more about Allen), is that “creative” and “non-creative” people don’t exist. “We’ve all been told a lie about the nature of creativity,” writes Gannett in his book, The Creative Curve. “Our culture has perpetrated the myth that creative success is the result of a sudden ‘lightbulb’ moment.”
But these defining “lightbulb” moments don’t really exist. In reality, Gannett says that anyone can be creative because creativity is scientific, not genetic. “There is in fact a science behind what becomes a hit,” he says. And by decoding the science behind successful creative hits, that “lightbulb” moment can be created whenever you need it.
Consumption is key
Gone are the days when you look only to your genetics for symptoms of artistic intuition; Gannett says that becoming a consumer is perhaps the most crucial aspect in creating the next-best thing. If you want to paint, you’d better start working your way around local art exhibits; if you want to write, you have to read at least 3-4 hours every day; and if you want to create an Oscar-winning movie, you’d better start watching films from past-winners. By consuming so much of your craft, it’s much easier to stay ahead of where the art is headed, giving you a better chance to release the next bestseller or paint the next Mona Lisa.
Gannett isn’t the only one who thinks that soaking in more of the material that you want to create is crucial to the process. Roz Morris, a successful ghostwriter and writing Master Class professor says on Literacy Works that, “Reading exposes us to other styles, other voices, other forms, and other genres of writing. Importantly, it exposes us to writing that’s better than our own and helps us to improve.”
So is imitation
Consumption isn’t the only aspect of Gannett’s scientific recipe for success, he also recommends “following the pattern” of other’s successes. It’s important to note that Gannett is by no means condoning plagiarism, rather suggesting that iconic works of art all follow a similar pattern. Books are usually 200-300 pages in length, movies are usually 90 minutes in length, and songs are 2-3 minutes long.
According to Gannett, audiences like some sense of familiarity (in this case the length of books, movies, and songs) when sampling new works of art. Of course, while similarities between works are expected, and in this case encouraged, artists should still change the works to showcase their own creative expression and keep the audience engaged. By keeping frameworks of your artwork the same, you can blow through any of the usual creative roadblocks that come up.
Don’t forget mentorship
Mentorship, writes Gannett, is also a direct factor to the success of both an idea and the mind behind it. “The strength of an artist’s reputation was correlated to the number of relationships they had with other successful artists, both within and beyond their own generation,” he says.
To constantly keep your creative juices flowing, Gannett suggests forming a “creative community” of teachers, muses, promoters, and collaborators. Each of these roles are different and they all come together to create a powerful community perfect for a budding artist of any kind. Gannett credits mentorship with being a hugely important factor behind any successful idea and it’s not surprising, as much importance has been placed on the role of mentors in creative arts. As Oprah Winfrey said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside of yourself.”
No matter what you decide to create in 2021— whether it be a gorgeous painting or a killer novel, keep Gannett’s three tips from The Creative Curve in mind when brainstorming for your next big project. Or, if you wanted an exclusive look into the book, join our beta here to be part of the conversation with author Allen Gannett. Dive deeper into the book with exclusive video content from Alan that brings you insights you wouldn’t get anywhere else, and have conversations with other readers who are asking the same questions you are.
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