Creativity comes from without, not from within.
-Kirby Ferguson, "Everything is a Remix" (TED Talk)
The creative process succeeds in one direction and stalls in the other. This letter is about moving in the right direction.
Creative flow is the right direction: consuming ideas and then creating something new:
Creative crisis is the wrong direction: creating something new and then looking for ideas:
In practice, these activities aren’t separate; they’re connected and fold together like an accordion:
Start pulling apart the accordion and more activities emerge:
To create, curate. To curate, consume.
Keep pulling and the full creative stack appears: to consume, collect; to collect, explore, and so on for seven more levels!
The key is to start from the bottom and move ⬆️ the creative stack, not down. If we’re stuck, the best thing we can do is switch from creative mode to receive mode.
To quote Kirby Ferguson, “Creativity comes from without, not from within.” It’s rarely the case we need to curate better or collect more; most of the time our antennae just need tuning.
The right creative direction is nature’s smile developer: we’re happy when we’re in the flow, reading and thinking and putting something new into the world.
Tune your antennae 📡
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BONUS: Thanks to Ken Bunnell for this drawing, “Moving Up the Creative Stack!”