The internet told me a secret about creativity once. Actually, the internets told me tons of secrets and lifehacks and fixes to creative constipation; spoiler alert: it isn’t a laxative. Yet why do none of them foster long-term impact? The truth is you already know why.
Here’s the mojo, man: Ailments like “society” and “technology” and “capitalistic exploitation” have addled our human brain from its inherent state of perfect creativity. Our always-on, always-connected world isn’t the best place for us creatives. And what do creatives do—create, duh.
How to create your most creative creates while you’re creating mindless creates for the non-creatives? Creativity! Acutally, I’ve been searching the internet for hours—so, eons in internet attention span—excavating the deepest recesses to discover the answer. And I stumbled across this nugget of boiled-down gold: 7 Surprising Facts About Creativity, According To Science.
Now if there’s something we can trust in this soulless world, it’s science, an area of study that never believed the sun revolved around the Earth and exiled the guy who thought otherwise. The author spent some time paging through Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire to find some secrets.
I have not read this book nor do I plan on it. But I have read an article about it, and in the internet badlands, that’s good enough to be an opinionated expert. So, without further ado, 7 Ultra Startling Facts About Creating, According to Scientists (Who Don’t Create).
A controversial starter, but if you didn’t want these scathing hot takes, why’d you go outside today? Lots of creative types have world-shattering ideas in the shower (there’s a statistic somewhere), so sorry you Rugrats-watching, Playpen-imitating kids. Wanna be (creatively) successful? Bathe up. Woody Allen is a primary example of someone who endorses long, hot showers, though that’s a bit like Tiger Woods and Magic Johnson endorsing marriage, which is to say: Makes sense!
- Be Lonely
You ever wonder why cool kids in school never make anything cool? Ask Cameron Crowe because I don’t know.
So here’s the crazy thing about creating: There’s no “We” in creative, just an “I.” You want to be cool, you want to hang with your friends all the time, you want to stimulate nourishing, healthy relationships in your life? Sorry, sonny, maybe creating just isn’t for you. To create, you must be alone, so if you need love, stop wasting my time.
You know those college years, when you’re excited to—whoa!—experiment? Maybe things got a little crazy in the library one night, your good “buddy,” hyped on massive amounts of stimulants like you, asks for a “study break.” In your younger years, maybe you would’ve stayed, but that day you went. His roommates were throwing a low-key “kickback” and you join. You enjoy yourselves, drink a little, smoke a little. The night hazes. Your eyelids droop. And your “buddy” asks if you want to see something in his room. Your “buddy” has a wide grin on his face when he shuts the door. Then he gets real close, digs into this pocket, and asks, “You curious?”
Laying in his palm, flat, so harmless, are Japanese mini-mochi candies. Without hesitation, you just go for it. You suck on that mochi candy until it disappears. The old you wouldn’t have done that. And that’s the experimental spirit you must embody throughout life: You gotta suck some mochi candies.
- Do LSD
Or something. Follow your heart, or gut, or butt. One of those. I skimmed this part of the article. I saw LSD in a story about creativity; the rest seemed obvious.
- Manifest death and destruction in your personal life
Scientists pretty much all agree: “post-traumatic growth” is a huge boon to creativity. Death of close loved one, spirits down, trauma of any kind; you need this if you’re to create. Because you know what they always say about bottoms? They’re fun to touch. But you know what else they say about bottoms? You’ll never climb if you don’t fall. Think about it.
I’m creating so hard right now, I’m daydreaming about creating while actually creating. The trick is to let your mind wander to its most random of thoughts—“What kind of cheese do I want to be when I grow up?”—while still creating. I bet you can’t tell that only a fraction of my brain power is required to write such creative gold like I am right now. (Seriously, right? Like don’t tell my bosses, but this happens all the time.)
- Don’t expect people to like your creating!
So you’re alone in the shower munching on some mochi candies after hitting some LSD and you’re mind wanders onto the most traumatic event of your entire life. Hold on. You’ll want to freak out. Everything in your body will tell you to freak out. But you can’t. You musn’t. That is when we must create our hardest, that is where pure expression will come from. That is how you create beautiful creates.
But, uh, the world’s cynical and cruel and no one will like your work until you die, then you’re trending on Twitter for a day, and people pretend they like you and miss you, which, I guess, is the best anyone could ever hope for. It’s the entire point of creating. And with this boiled-down gold advice reduced to its prime, gooey essence, you’re finally ready to create.
Who knew it was always this simple?