I read another great essay by Scott Berkun on Creative Thinking Hacks. He makes the great point that most ideas are a combination of other ideas:
Every amazing creative thing you’ve ever seen, or idea you’ve ever heard can be broken down into smaller ideas that existed before. An automobile? An engine + wheels. A telephone? Electricity and sound. Reese’s peanut butter cups? Peanut butter and chocolate. All great creative ideas, inventions, and theories are comprised of other ideas.
I often try too hard to write. I get an idea brewing in my head about something, and I keep it at arms length – dancing around it, describing it coldly, and I get stuck at a dead end. And then I scream and pull my hair out and snap at Bryan, and he says to me, “Why are you coming at it that way? Just write about your experience with it.” And I do. And it comes out brilliant.
Sometimes I think I have to be new, and shiny, and smart, and the first to ever say it. But that’s not always what makes good writing. Annie Lamott once said in an interview on our local NPR station that she writes about universal experiences – i.e. nothing new – but she writes from her own perspective, which gives us, the reader, a fresh perspective on the universe.
In his essay Scott also addresses our fear of creating:
Half the challenge of being creative is turning fears off, and trying out ideas even if we think they might not work or are unsure of what will happen. Weird ideas almost always teach us something we could not have learned any other way, and improve the chances the next combo will be more useful.
One way to think of creative people is that they’re the ones who have more control over their fears, or simply have less fear of embarrassment. Being creative has more to do with being fearless than intelligent, brilliant or any other adjective superficially associated with creativity. This explains why many people feel more creative when drinking, on other drugs, or late at night: these are all moments when our inhibitions are lower, or at least altered, and we allow ourselves to see more combinations of things than we do at other times.
Besides the fact that I’m always up for justifying drunk blogging, I love the fact that he obliterates the alter we put creative people on. I do this all the time when I read authors and other bloggers. I melt over a brilliant phrase, or an image, or the way a story is told, and I think to myself that she deserves success more than I do. We certainly can’t discount the benefits of education or natural talent or hard work, but what brilliant book is going to be published if the writer is too afraid to put words onto a page?
I’ve said before that blogging has been my trust fall. I closed my eyes, folded my arms, and leaned back into it, and trusted that the internet would catch me. And it did. I definitely have more confidence in my writing now than I did two years ago, largely because blogging has removed the fear.
If you are a creative type looking for ways to get over your creative hurdles, I recommend reading the entire essay. It’s witty and wise.