Stop Looking to Habits of Famous Creative People

A popular book and Internet blog topic has been the study of lifestyles and habits of famous creative people, such as this and this. I’m bored of them, and today I realized why: to look at creativity as a set of techniques or tactics robs us of a deeper understanding of creativity’s power.

It’s oft-stated in the church community that God is Creator, and that, since we’re made in God’s image, we are thus creative. Consider: If creativity is part of the essence of what it means to be human, is it something we can easily distill into a simple recipe, heat and serve, like Ten Habits of Famous Compassionate People?

Or is it much deeper than that?

In my book Think Like a Five Year Old, I note that our unique perspective on life is in fact the origin of our creativity:

Creativity is about listening to, and living out of, the voice in your inner being – your heart, mind, soul and strength; in other words, creativity is about being attentive to and acting in response to the combination of ideas and reactions and preferences that form your view of the world. This perspective, this unique form of expression, is the identity given to you by God and the origin of your creativity. We come with it preloaded. We’re each born an artist. We’re made to be creative. As an image of God, when we exercise our heavenly impulse, the result of our expression, regardless of our field of endeavor, is art. This power, which reflects the essence of God, reveals itself in the passions we feel.

This passage suggests that, if we’re feeling uninspired or fatigued, the solution isn’t something extrinsic – to change our circumstances or surroundings or self-identity, or to adopt a famous creative’s set of habits from a blog post or list.

Of course, looking at famous people’s habits is fun, and I don’t want to overstate its value by complaining about it. But I also don’t want to subconsciously spy on the creative routines of well-known people out of a hacker’s mentality that if we can uncover some common thread and apply it to our own lives, we’ll improve our lot. This is magic in the worst sense of the word, a replacement of identity and faith in God with an easy trick or set of tactics. Instead of looking to other people’s habits, if we look inward to rediscover who we are and how we’re made, from this place of wisdom we might recover not a grab bag, tactical creativity but an expression of our human identity.

Rather than adopt new routines, or look to the habits of well-known persons, what are the implications of looking inward to find our creativity?

About the Author

Len Wilson

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Christ follower. Storyteller. Strategist. Writer. Creative Director at St Andrew. Tickle monster. Author, Think Like a Five Year Old (Abingdon).

2 Comments on “Stop Looking to Habits of Famous Creative People”

  1. Admittedly, I am always drawn to the stated blog posts that show hacking formulas for creativity. Not because I use them, but because something in me wants to see it as formulaic. I think it’s the age old sin of comparison. I want to see if my methods are better/worse than others. I want to compare myself to those famous creatives to see how I measure up. Looking inward is harder. It requires me to cut through all the sin to find the spark of inspiration that’s already there. But like mama always said, “if it ain’t hard to do, you wouldn’t appreciate it when it’s done.”

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