Currently Reading: The Art of Creative Thinking


A creative person can’t refuse to grow old but they can refuse to grow up. They maintain the playful attitude of a child throughout their lives. They understand that some things are too serious to take seriously. They never lose the urge to throw a snowball at a businessman. All creativity is about mind over matter. That matter might be paint, ink, paper or almost anything. The matter doesn’t matter, because it’s all in the mind.

Rod Judkins’ The Art of Creative Thinking is a fantastic collection of thematic stories, perspectives, quotes and guidance. A great philosophical complement to Austin Kleon’s more pragmatically oriented Steal Like an Artist. That’s not to say that The Art of Creative Thinking is all theoretical, but it excels at conveying an attitude toward creativity, as opposed to getting into the mechanics of doing creative work. Continue reading

“…too young to call it a day… too old to make any more mistakes”—Tim Be Told, honestly amazing

Wish I had found this song earlier, but then again, maybe I need it most now. I love how the sheer authenticity of “One Chance” cuts to the core of how compelling yet challenging the call of creativity is. I’ve been listening to this song since January, and it’s the first song on my current playlist.

Tim Be Told has been dazzling my auditory cortex since I saw them perform at ECAASU‘s 2010 conference. I lost track of them for a while as my musical tastes went through various phases, but it’s so great to know they’re still making amazing music, really embodying the ethos they layout in “One Chance”.

Open Notebook: The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing

Here are some perspectives David Morley shares in his fantastic book The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing. 

Writing proceeds forwards slowly, like a sand dune moving through night and day, simultaneously accreting and eroding. Much is lost or invisible, millions of grains of sand, millions of grains of language

You have now begun to walk in the open space of the page. The journey becomes an elaborate series of gambles, and there is no sense of forward progression as such; there is shaping and reconfiguring, stepping back, inking in and beginning over.

A notebook is a movable workplace… A notebook will make the difference between a book being born and one that never achieves conception.

…we have to use the right words and the right words in the best order.

Most writers agree that the best way to write well creatively is to write for yourself.

It follows that the best way to read as a writer is to read for yourself.

Almost Time to Get “Bored and Brilliant”

After listening to the latest Studio 360 Science and Creativity podcast featuring Manoush Zomorodi talking about smartphone addictions, boredom, creativity and the default mode network, I am psyched to take part in WNYC’s Bored and Brilliant project! The plan: for the next week, resist/avoid smartphone tendencies, get bored, work on creative daily challenges.

If that sounds like fun to you, jump on in. At least listen to the Science and Creativity or New Tech City podcast on this the topic of boredom/daydreaming and creativity; great stuff there.

The Hippocratic Oath of Writing and Other Perspectives from Steve Almond

From This Won't Take But a Minute, HoneyEver since Harvard Bookstore started printing it, I’d been meaning to read Steve Almond’s chapbook/mini-book This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey, and a few years later (after acquiring a copy from Steve Almond himself for a not unreasonable price paid in cash), I finally did. It’s a very readable, compact collection of flash fiction and views on writing, with the latter severely grabbing my attention with pithy, punchy perspectives. Though often stated with an air of certainty, authority or almost sarcastic sagacity, there’s almost a challenge implicit (then finally explicit) in these perspectives/pieces of advice—a dare to one up what Steve Almond stated, and the consideration or even debate that this work may provoke can be valuable to a variety of writers and readers.

Here’s one idea I wound up with after the chapbook ran its course.

Steve Almond’s “Hippocratic Oath of Writing” (shown below) led me to consider a potential Hippocratic Oath of Teaching: Never confuse the student, in the end. I think learning involves a degree of confusion, of exposing and messing with knowledge gaps, to borrow from Made to Stick. But confusion in the service of understanding. By the end of a topic discussion, semester, college, whatever, a student should not leave confused about an essential truth their teachers/mentors/facilitators have been entrusted with guiding them to. For those of us in education, Never confuse the student, in the end, that is a stupendous charge, and while we can’t ever fully ensure that, it’s an imperative that is essential, always posing the critical question to us as we’re trying to explain something: could this be clearer?

Looks like you can still get this book from the Harvard Bookstore, but if you can get one from Steve Almond himself, that will make for a much more memorable experience.

Schedules Over Deadlines: Roald Dahl, Anna Akana, iDoneThis

I couldn’t help but notice that recently shared perspectives from Roald Dahl, Anna Akana and iDoneThis hammer the importance of being disciplined, building routines or a schedule and having realistic short-term goals as keys to producing creative work.

Reminds me of what Ira Glass said in an interview (below) about how to close the gap between where your work is and where you want it to be: “do a huge volume of work… so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story.”

Here is the excellent All Things Considered story “Roald Dahl Wanted His Magical ‘Matilda’ To Keep Books Alive” which reveals some of Roald Dahl’s writing habits.