Merlin Mann on creativity

Merlin Mann will be well known to the Mac-using readers of this blog. For those who don’t recognise his name, Merlin has long been associated with productivity and creativity. I’ve just finished watching his Macworld 2009 talk. He examines the dichotomy between being creative and wanting to be.

To explain: Creativity is often viewed as a talent or gift. On this account, one possesses creativity or one does not. This fiction – and I believe it is an unwarranted, baseless fiction – leads to a division between those who ‘have’ and ‘have not’. It reminds me of the distinction between art and science. Screw that. Let’s be renaissance men and women.

Those who are successfully creative tend not be concerned with the process of creation. Those who are not will tend to focus on the process; what daily routine do the creatives have? what kind of computer programs do they use to organise their notes? what is the secret?

As well as being thoroughly entertaining, and a textbook example of how to deal with a tough crowd, Merlin’s talk arrives at a sensible conclusion, which I will now ruin for you: Creativity increases when you invest more time in the creation of the product and less time in the discovery of a successful methodology.

A great talk by an interesting guy who now threatens to produce something awesome. I hope he does.

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Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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