In 1963, a young musician woke from a dream with a song in his head. Quickly writing down the chord progression he shared his work with friends and colleagues. Everyone agreed it was a unique and special piece of music.
After adding unforgettable lyrics, Paul McCartney’s Yesterday went on to become arguably the biggest hit for the Beatles. Covered by more artists than any other song, Yesterday continues to sell to this day.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Or is it?
Is this how creativity works? Do innovative ideas arrive in a lightbulb-like moment, fully formed and ready for the world? And does this happen only to creative geniuses such as McCartney or Mozart?
These were the myths I explored at the Mix Design Collective and BCFA sponsored event in Manchester on 6th December 2018.
Creativity is a bit of a myth. But it shouldn't be. For some time now, scientists and researchers have begun to identify the patterns that successful creative people all seem to share...
Creative people are open-minded information mavens.
They consume of all types and forms of inspirational content. This could be from reading books and magazines, watching films and TV, visiting art galleries and museums, attending conferences and walking around exhibition halls. Consumption fuels the creative process.
Good Artists Copy. Great Artists Steal
Creative people are imitators.
Imitation helps them understand what’s good and what’s bad. What works and what doesn’t. Only then can creatives offer anything new. Standing on the shoulders of giants is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s how everyone from Rembrandt to Rowling cut their teeth.
Creative people need what Psychologist Carol Dweck calls, a ‘Growth Mindset’. This is a commitment to self-awareness and improvement and willingness to seek feedback.
Creative People Are Social Animals
Despite the myth of the lone Creative, working away in their studio or workshop, creativity is team sport. Creatives work best when they belong to, and are active participants in, vibrant artistic communities. Creative hubs – such as London, Manchester, Edinburgh or Leeds – have an energy all of their own. Creatives need these social connections to be inspired, challenged and channelled in their work.
How Creative People Succeed
This then, is what Creativity is and how it works. This is how creative success is won. The problem is that the myths of Creativity – the flashes of inspiration, given only to special types of people – holds innovation back.
These myths persist because they make a good story. And everyone loves a good story. As an example, the story of ‘Yesterday’ is a myth. It’s a good story. It was over two years before ‘Yesterday’ was written and released. Two years of trial and error and frustration. Mostly of those around McCartney who got fed up of hearing his half-formed tune over and over again!
No Easy Way Out
People always want the creative shortcut. The hack and the easy way through. Understanding how Creativity works does not guarantee fame and fortune. If only it were that easy. But that’s just the point. It isn’t easy. Which is why only a few succeed when most fall to the wayside.
This realisation is meant to inspire and encourage. Because, whilst there’s no magic formula, you can still improve the odds.
Become A Creative Genius Step-by-Step
But have I missed something? If you think you can add to our understanding of how creativity works, please make your comment below.