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Creativity Needs Fuel

I once heard James Altucher say the following: “I have to read a lot in order to write a little. If I’m going to write 2 hours worth of stuff, it’s almost like I have to read 10 hours worth of books.”

When i spoke with Jeffrey Tucker at ISFLC last year, he said he reads twice as much as he writes. For a man who publishes substantial pieces every single day, that’s a lot of time for him to devote to reading. When I asked him why he reads so much, he said “creativity needs fuel.”

Ray Bradbury agrees:

If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape.

Methodological solipsism, it seems, is the death of inspiration. The creative process can’t be approached as if the private content of one’s individual consciousness is sufficient. If you want to have good ideas of your own, you have to step outside of your personal framework and make sure you’re engaging the ideas of others. Other people’s ideas are like matches that light a spark when we strike them against our minds. A single provocative concept can set your entire worldview on fire.

The important thing to remember is this: Reading isn’t about internalizing ideas. It’s about interacting with them. “Stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays…” not for the purpose of regurgitating preexisting material, but for the purpose of stirring up your soul so deeply that your own stories are eventually aroused from their slumber.


What it Really Takes to be Creative


I recently wrote a post for Medium entitled Creativity isn’t Sexy. Creativity is about Creating. In that post, I discussed one of the biggest myths about creativity that prevents many would-be artists from doing the work they so deeply desire to do.

Since publishing that article, one of the producers from Cliff Central contacted me and asked me to be a guest on the Kellman Show to discuss some of my ideas. We spoke this morning about failure, hard work, and the difference between creativity and eccentricity. If you’d like to hear our conversation, you can check out the show by clicking on the link below.

T.K. Coleman on the Kellman Show


The Muse is Not a Bigot

The voice of innovation and inspiration is willing to speak to anyone who’s willing to work.

Even if you’re not an artist, you can be creative (if you do the work).

Even if you’re not a hipster, you can be creative (if you do the work).

Even if you don’t live in a cool city, you can be creative (if you do the work).

Even if you’re not “the creative-type,” you can be creative (if you do the work).

Being creative is not the work. The work is the work. Being creative is merely a product of doing the work. The people who get to be creative are the people who get around to doing the work. And the muse loves to make friends with people who get around to doing the work.

Be Like Aslan

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…” “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you. -C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

Good does not equal safe. Dangerous does not equal bad.

There’s nothing more reckless and irresponsible than advocating a concept of virtue that reduces “goodness” to the attributes of harmlessness and passivity.

A goodness that is threatening to no one is a goodness that is useless to everyone.

Goodness is no less concerned with progress than with platitudes; it is no less preoccupied with freedom than with friendliness.

And how can we promote progress, how can we fight for freedom if we have no willingness to offend, to produce discomfort, to stir up the tension that necessarily accompanies the disruption of the status quo?

Wherever there is creativity, there is always some form of destruction.

Wherever there is evolution, there is always some form of extinction.

Nothing good comes into being without the prior states of inertia being destroyed.

We think we’re avoiding risks, but we’re really avoiding ourselves. We’re avoiding our capacity to do work that matters, to lead lives that make a difference, to touch people’s heart’s with something that stings, burns, resonates, shakes them up, and arouses them out of their intellectual and spiritual slumber. Yes, we avoid all of this in the name of following some trope we’ve mistaken for that which is truly good. In our efforts to be good, we have become boring, unnoticeable, and unmoving. In a word, “safe.”

Maybe we need to be more like Aslan. Maybe we need to do more dangerous things like say what we really mean and pursue what we really want. Maybe we need to allow ourselves to be mesmerized and intoxicated by what truly thrills us, what truly turns us on, what truly tunes us up.

Maybe we should pray that our brands be damned and our fires be stoked.

Is (insert activity here) For Everyone?

As Education Director for an alternative education program, I am frequently asked some version of the following two questions:

1) Is College for everyone?

2) Is Praxis for everyone?

Besides food, water, air, shelter, and love (and I’m sure there are some people who would even debate the necessity of the aforementioned elements), there aren’t many things that are for everyone.

This is true of going to college and this is true of skipping college. This is true of starting your own business and this is true of working for someone else. This is true of making a lot of money and this is true of taking a vow of poverty. This is true of being very ambitious about your career and this is true of not caring all that much about your professional life.

This is true of getting married young, getting married old, and not getting married at all. This is true of having a lot of children, having a few children, and not having children at all. This is true of having a very active social life and this is true of being an introvert. This is true of being a Lady Gaga fan and this is true of being a Miles Davis fan. This is true of almost everything.

There are no cookie cutter answers to the question “what path should I take?”

We’re all capable of helping each other evaluate pros and cons, but none of us have the final answer for anybody else.

No matter what the subject, it will always be necessary that we think for ourselves.

If you can find an easy answer whose application requires zero creativity, zero critical thinking, and zero personal risk, it’s probably not an answer worth having.

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