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.

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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