How to be a Creative Genius

How to be a Total Creative Genius in one easy lesson
Everyone at some time or another gets the urge to be creative. Many of these people are superbly talented, their facility for creative thought is highly developed and translates easily into action. Of course the vast majority are merely stuck with the creative urge and no way to express it.
Are these two types of people different? Not at all. They are both people with hopes dreams and ideas. What makes the difference? Why are some people good at expressing themselves in their art and others not?
It’s a near heresy to say it but I think it’s easy to become a creative genius if you know the secret. It boils down to this:
Having the urge to do something and having the skill and experience to execute it.
Sounds really duh simple when you say it like that but let me break it down.
A) Having the Urge: COMPOSITION
Creative urges come and go but it’s only art if you finish it. Whether it be visual art like painting, comicbooks, sculpture or film, or audio art like music or spoken word, or writing novels or screenplays, it only really becomes art if you plan it, execute it and release it for the consideration of your audience. Up to that point anything you produce is practise.
The process of creation is composition, how you get from your idea to a finished piece, and this is a recognisable process in any discipline.
You start from an idea, usually just the one. A scene you find interesting, an image, a sound or even a smell can be the inspiration. It doesn’t matter. The point is there is a starting point, something which catches your imagination. At that point it only catches your imagination because through some personal quirk of brain chemistry you enjoy the whole idea just from that one spark of original thought.
But to take that thought and make it accessible to someone else is the hard bit and you will need some structure and supporting materials to make that thought digestible to another human being. You can’t just say “she loves him so she dies” and expect anyone else to fill in the blanks and get the detailed and nuanced story you are trying to tell from that. You need to fill in the background, set the scene, do something that makes the ending inevitable and then deliver the punchline, and all these steps need to follow seamlessly one after the other.
It’s like hypnosis, a gentle, measured, pleasingly modulated voice telling you things in a carefully structured order to get a specific response from you and not breaking the spell till you are under, receive the suggestion to quit smoking, then lead you gently back to consciousness and feeling good about the experience. Your audience should feel that about your writing or other art, better for the experience. So…
Step 1: MAKE LOTS OF LITTLE IDEAS
Sketches, pictures off the internet, notes on file cards, Moleskine notebooks full of those and more. It doesn’t matter. Collect your ideas in a tangible form. The reason you need to have more than one idea is that ideas cluster together and they have a weight, like a kind of creative mass, and give you a range of choices and spaces between ideas.
Huh? Spaces? The spaces between ideas are as important as the ideas. It’s called juxtaposition. The brain sees to images and tried to connect them. A picture of a wolf, a child and a sheep give you one idea, a picture of a wolf, a young woman and the moon gives you another totally different idea.
So from these ideas take a few to form the core of your piece, the theme, the melody or the shape.
Step 2: CHOOSE YOUR CORE
Having sorted through the ideas you’ve chosen the things which represent to you the core of what you want to say… What, you don’t have anything to say? Well this causes a problem. Art is about saying something. It doesn’t have to be a profound thought, but it does have to be a thought, and it has to be yours.
It could be as simple as “love never dies”, “i never said goodbye”, “sometimes you meet someone who is bad for you” or complicated like “why are we here on Earth”, “why is mankind so cruel” or “why is it hotdogs come in packs of 10 and hot dog rolls in packs of 6”.
It’s crucial that you have something to say at the core of what you’re doing. It might be that you can’t express your thought in words, but then that’s what drawing is for.
Okay so you know what your core is,  what now?
Step 3: CHOOSE YOUR STYLE
As an artist with years of experience you will of course be able to call on any number of styles to put your ideas across. Okay maybe not, you have to be very talented to do that, and if you are I’m very pleased for you. But most of us have to work real hard to find our own style.
I’m not saying that you should not produce anything till you have evolved your own original style. Don’t hold off producing work until you have a unique style because personal style comes out of lots of practise.
Finding the right style for a piece takes a LOT of work but it again is CRUCIALLY important that you find a style for your piece. It may not be entirely original at first. But the more you work during polishing, the more original it will become.
So what style? Black and white, noir, idiotically gleeful colour, pastel shades, gritty and scratchy, light and breezy, jazzy, industrial, classical, produced by just you or in collaboration with other writers or artists… it doesn’t matter. But you need to start thinking about how you want this piece of work to end up. Set a goal. and start to be pretty specific about it.
Many people skip this step and start in with the writing or drawing, but this is the step before any work can take place.
Thinking.
Yes seriously, please allow yourself time to use your brain in the way it likes to be used. Relax. Close your eyes. Think about your story, your piece, your film. Think about it and let your brain chip away at it like a billion tiny nano-robots, seeking the true shape of the story.
The human brain is an AMAZINGLY complex machine and it will find sense in almost any random events. So let it work on your ideas, your basic elements of story or form. And then imagine it in a variety of styles. Use self hypnosis or guided meditation techniques to free up your brain’s creative juices and allow your ideas to grow and take shape. (These are powerful techniques which are outside the scope of this blog, but I’ll be revisiting them in a future entry.)
Once you have a few ideas and they are starting to have a definite form, you need a structure.
Step 4: BUILD A STRUCTURE FITTING THE SCOPE
In all art there is a tradition of building an underlying structure. In animation they make wire armatures to hang the clay on, in sculpture too. In painting there is the initial charcoal drawings.
All art has structure and building it is just grunt work, not much creativity involved. What do you want the thing to be? It the sculpture 6 inches tall or 6 feet? Is the song 3 minutes long or 16? Is the movie going to be 20 minutes long or two hours? Fundamental questions.
You can answer these questions arbitrarily by just plucking a figure out of the air. Or you can analyse your story or idea and see if it can sustain itself for the length of the piece.
Having decided on a size, you begin sketching out the basic form. A film is usually three acts with the middle act being as long as the other two acts put together, and a page a minute. A novel can be any amount of pages from 200 to 1500. A song can be a single or a concept album. A piece of sculpture can be an ornament or a monument. You get to decide the scope of your work.
So structure is more of an intellectual exercise rather than a creative one. You have the idea and the style, which are creative work, then you have the start of construction, the hard hat area when the thing is going to be built.
So patiently and somewhat passionlessly you build the underlying structure. Plan out what happens on each of the 120 pages of your screenplay, where for the best impact certain events in your story occur. Plan your art piece and figure out where it will go and when the changes, transition and twists and turns will occur.
Then you are ready for more creative work.
Step 5: FILLING THE STRUCTURE WITH IDEAS
You recall that book of ideas you made at the beginning? Well now is the time to go back to it and start filling in the spaces between your ideas with other ideas. Have more thinking sessions. This time instead of the overall ideas and structure of the piece you are doing a session for each individual scene or phrase in the piece.
How does the first scene get to the second scene? How do we get to the first major plot point? How do we getting into the second act? How does that feel? Does it feel forced and arbitrary or does it feel natural? Test your work all the way along, not getting too specific at this point, just refining and adding more ideas.
As I said before ideas have a weight, they cluster together as you add more of them together and once they reach a certain mass they start having their own weight. The story, the art, starts having a momentum of its own. It’s like rolling a tiny ball of snow at the top of a hill. At a certain point it gets big enough to roll under it’s own weight. When you reach that point the story just kind of writes itself.
There follows a process of filling in tinier and tinier pieces of detail, using words or brush strokes, initially like shovelling rocks to fill in the spaces, the gravel, then sand, then dust, until the surface of your story is smooth and seamless.
Step 6: POLISHING
After an interval of rest after your labours, putting in enough distance for you to slightly forget how it goes, go back to your artwork and go through tweaking details. See how it flows from start to finish making notes about humps and bumps along the way. Look at it from all angles.
Finishing is the hardest bit in many ways, knowing when to stop. Experience plays a big part in this as we’ll see in a minute. But it really comes down to trusting your instincts. You know instinctively when something is good, when it’s finished. You see the glaring details that are wrong, that are not fitting with other elements. The words are slightly wrong, or the colours, or the sounds. Something is wrong. You know it. So fix it. Make it better. At this level concentrate on every part one by one and make it as good as it can be. You’re gone from general to specific. Refine, polish, and sometimes remove. Venus deMilo looks better without the arms? They bug you? Cut em off, no prisoners. Be ruthless. Make it good.
And at a certain point you’ll feel it. You’ll be done. Finished.
Note on being “in flow”: as a footnote to the composition steps, you might recall artists and musicians talk about being “on a roll”, “in the flow” or “in the groove”. Your state of mind is crucially important when creating art. You need to clear your mind of all day to day garbage, the bills, the kids, the homework, whatever is on your mind, and be relaxed and flexible. You need to be able to let your mind go where it needs to go to make art, not constantly flicking back to your life problems. Sure your problems inform your art and sometimes form the basis of it. But you can’t be thinking about problems, just ideas. Use self-hypnosis or guided meditation techniques to clear your mind for the creation process for this reason if no other.
So that’s composition, bringing the ideas to life. But what about the ability to bring a lot more skill to the table when creating your chosen art?
B) Having the experience and skill: PRACTISE PRACTISE PRACTISE
How able you are at bringing your ideas to fruition is a matter of repetition. Getting good at what you do or what they call “working through the suck” is a longish process and involves you DOING what you do rather than merely TALKING about it.
If you are a writer you must write, every day. If you are a painter you must paint, or at least draw every day. A guitarist? Practise every day. A photographer? Carry a camera with you everywhere. Do your art day after day. You’ll get good, no question. If you are passionate about something this should be a godsend. I’m giving you permission to do something you love as much as you can fit into a day.
Wait, it’s too much of a strain for you? Maybe you are not cut out for this kind of work. Too busy? Rubbish. You’ll always make time for things you love. Only takes 5-10 minutes a day. Do it every day, no excuses.
“Working through the suck” was a phrase coined I think by US broadcaster and writer Ira Glass. He puts it that as an artist you have great taste in the art you have loved, and you aspire to be like many of your favourite creators and artists. You love their ideas and the way they express them. But by comparison you don’t measure up, in your eyes you “suck”.
Many good young artists never become great old artists because they give up at this point before they ever get good. But the thing is most people get better and better at what they do if they do it enough, and the breakthrough almost always comes just after they were about to give up.
Have you ever played a computer game? Ever got to that bit where you just can’t get through to the next level no matter how hard you try? You try and try and try till you are so tired and bored you just give up and go onto some other game or give up computer games completely. But have you ever stuck at a game and refused to give up till you beat that level? You did? And the game was much easier after all that rehearsal, wasn’t it? You got good.
You worked through the suck.
Once you get good at what you do then all the problems start to evaporate. Once you get good at what you do then the only problem becomes how to get ideas and how to hang on to them. I’ll cover this too in another blog.
The is another element which comes into play in all art, the delivery of the piece sometimes adds something over which you have no control. The actors and directors who produce your film. The brain of the reader reading your novel. The mood of the person listening to your music. All of these things affect the final result. It’s like a perfume that adds the woman’s own skin scent to it and becomes subtly different to the nose as a result.
Fortunately for you there is nothing you can do to plan or imagine where these additional mutations of your idea will take it after it leaves your hands, but it’s something to think about.
But for now that’s really it. All you need to know to be a creative genius, in one lesson. Seriously. If you read understand and apply everything I’ve just said you will become productive and original, and produce compelling art that people really enjoy. Good luck and let me know if this piece has helped you.
Want to read more?
Thank you so much for reading. Please by all means leave some feedback, I’d love to hear what you have to say about my blog. Also if you want to sign up for my FREE monthly creative genius newsletter and get more training, techniques, sources of ideas, and other inspirational materials like this, then I would love it if you’d sign up for my newsletter using the form on the top of the page on the right. Every month I’ll be telling you more about how to become a total creative genius. It’s completely free and you will also qualify for a free eBook just for signing up. Thanks again, and see you next time for more creative genius.
anyone can do it
anyone can do it

Everyone at some time or another gets the urge to be creative. Many people are superbly talented, their facility for creative thought is highly developed and translates easily into action. Of course the vast majority of us are merely stuck with the creative urge and no way to easily express it.

Are these two types of people different? Not at all. They are both people with hopes dreams and ideas. What makes the difference? Why are some people good at expressing themselves in their art and others not?

It’s a near heresy to say it but I think it’s easy to become a creative genius if you know the secret. It boils down to this:

  1. Having the urge to do something
  2. Having the skill and experience to execute it

Sounds really duh simple when you say it like that but let me break it down. Creative people practise their art. They get good at it. Again this sounds obvious when you say it, but surprisingly few people who are creative by nature take the time to get good at what they do and so give up before they achieve their potential. Creative thought and the ability to generate, nurture and complete good ideas is something that takes a little work.

It’s not hard work, I mean you love to create, right? So it’s joyful work getting good at what you do. But it helps to know a little about the process for doing good work. I’ve distilled all my teaching of the last few years into a few easy steps, and I’m pleased finally to be able to share them with you.

Phase One: Having the Urge
THE ART OF COMPOSITION

Creative urges come and go but it’s only art if you finish it. Whether it be visual art like painting, comic books, sculpture or film, or audio like music or spoken word, or writing for novels or screenplays, it only really becomes art if you plan it, execute it and release it for the consideration of your audience. Up to that point anything you produce is practise.

The process of creation is called composition, and it’s how you get from your basic uncut diamond of an idea to a polished and completed piece, and you’ll find this is a recognisable process in any discipline.

You start from an idea, usually just the one. A thought that catches your imagination. A scene, an image, a sound or even a smell can be the inspiration. It doesn’t matter. The point is there is a starting point, something which excites you. At that point it only appeals to you because of some personal quirk of brain chemistry you can enjoy the whole idea just from that one spark of original thought. You mentally fill in the blanks yourself and skip over details and enjoy the thought of the finished art.

But to take that thought and make it accessible to someone else is the hard part. You will need some structure and supporting ideas to make that thought digestible to another person. You can’t just say “she loves him so she dies” and expect anyone else to fill in the blanks like you did and enjoy the whole subtle detailed and nuanced story just from that one idea. You need to fill in the background, set the scene, then do something that makes the ending inevitable and then deliver the punchline, and all these steps need to follow seamlessly one after the other.

Storytelling is like hypnosis, a gentle, measured, pleasingly modulated voice telling you things in a carefully structured order to get a specific response from you. It doesn’t the spell till you are ready to receive the suggestion (to quit smoking or whatever) then it leads you gently back into consciousness and feeling good about the experience. Your audience should feel that about your writing or other art, better for the experience. But it’s the same process, you gently lead people in, tell them a story, then gently push them to the exit hopefully with a warm glow. So…

Step 1: MAKE LOTS OF LITTLE IDEAS

Sketches, pictures off the internet, notes on file cards, gorgeous Moleskine notebooks full of those things and much more. It doesn’t matter. Collect your ideas in a tangible form. The reason you need to have more than one idea is that ideas cluster together and they have a weight, like a kind of creative mass. The brain loves combinations of ideas, and spaces between the ideas. Huh? Spaces? Yes, the empty spaces between ideas are as important as the ideas. It’s called juxtaposition. The brain sees 2-3 images and tries to connect them. You can’t help it. A picture of a wolf, a child and a sheep give you one idea; a picture of a wolf, a young woman and the moon gives you another totally different idea.

So from these ideas take a few to form the core of your piece, the theme, the melody or the shape. The essence.

Step 2: CHOOSE YOUR CORE

Having sorted through the ideas you choose the key things which represent to you the core of what you want to say… What, you don’t have anything to say? Well this causes you a problem. Art is about saying something. Now don’t get scared. It doesn’t have to be a profound thought, but it does have to be a thought, and it has to be your thought.

It could be as simple as “love never dies“, “I never said goodbye“, “why do people have to leave?“, “sometimes someone you love is bad for you” or more complicated like “why are we here on Earth“, “why is mankind so cruel” or “why is it hotdogs come in packs of 10 and hot dog rolls in packs of 6“. It doesn’t matter what you want to say but make sure you are saying something. Modern films and TV are often well made and cool, but more often have nothing whatever to say. Don’t make that mistake. Be cool by all means, but have something to say too.

It might be that you can’t express your thought in words, but hey, that’s what drawing is for.

Okay so you know what your core is, so what now?

Step 3: CHOOSE A STYLE

As an artist with years of experience you will of course be able to call on any number of styles to put your ideas across. Okay maybe not. If you are that talented I’m very pleased for you. But most of us have to work hard to find a suitable style which we can own.

A cautionary note here: I’m not saying that you avoid producing anything till you have evolved your own original style. THe way to evolve a personal style is to get good at what you do and learning from existing styles is an important part of learning your own style. That and practise. Once you have a lot of work under your belt you can take a style and make it your own. Don’t worry about being original at first, just try to take a style and use it to make your art. It may not be entirely original at first. But the more you work during the polishing stage, the more original it will become. It might not start out that way but you can make it your own.

So what style? Black and white, noir, idiotically gleeful colour, pastel shades, gritty and scratchy, light and breezy, jazzy, industrial, classical, produced by just you or in collaboration with other writers or artists… it doesn’t matter. But you need to start thinking about how you want this piece of work to end up. Set a goal. and start to get specific about it.

Now then, how do you imagine your work in a variety of styles? Many people skip this step and start in with the writing or drawing right away, but this is the most important step before any work can take place. And this is it:

Thinking.

Yes seriously, please please please allow yourself time to use your brain in the way it likes to be used. A good strategy and one which works for me is a kind of guided meditation or self-hypnosis routine.

Find a quiet spot where you are not going to be disturbed for an hour. Get a timer of some sort which notifies you with a gentle bell sound, like an alarm on a cell phone. Set it for an hour. Relax. Close your eyes. Take 20 deep, connected breaths. Feel yourself relaxing deeper and deeper with each breath. Think about your story, your piece, your film. Think about your idea and let your brain chip away at it like a billion tiny nano-robots, seeking the true shape of the story. Erase anything which is not part of the shape. Anything which doesn’t belong. Sit the full hour. If you get another idea or intrusive other thought which you need to write down, have a pen and paper handy so you can jot it down to get it out of your mind until later on. Empty your mind and let the idea breathe. When the hour is up, rouse yourself slowly and enjoy the mental freedom which these sessions will give you.

Meditations like this are incredibly useful for honing ideas or letting them take shape. There is a tendency to try and force ideas out in caffeine fuelled brainstorming sessions. Don’t do that. Don’t force it; let it out.

The human brain is an AMAZINGLY complex and brilliant machine and it will find sense in almost any random events. So let it work on your ideas, your basic elements of story or form. And then imagine it in a variety of styles. Use the hypnosis or meditation techniques I’ve described to free up your brain’s creative juices and allow your ideas to grow and take shape. (These are powerful techniques which I love to use and I’ll talk about them again.)

Once you have a few freshly grown ideas and they are starting to have a definite form, you need a proper structure.

Step 4: BUILD A STRUCTURE FITTING THE SCOPE

In all art there is a tradition of building an underlying structure. In animation they make wire armatures to hang the clay on, in sculpture too. In painting there is the initial charcoal drawings.

Structure is important because you hang your existing ideas on it and then you see the space between them. You see what you haven’t done yet and once you know that you can start putting in stuff in the blanks.

All art has structure and building it is mostly dull grunt work, not much creativity involved. It means that you have to ask yourself a bunch of dull questions. What do you want the thing to be? Is the sculpture 6 inches tall or 6 feet? Is the song 3 minutes long or 16? Is the movie going to be 20 minutes long or two hours? Fundamental questions. You can answer these questions arbitrarily by just plucking a figure out of the air. Or you can analyse your story or idea much more carefully and see if you think it can sustain itself for the length of the whole piece.

Having decided on a size, you begin sketching out the basic form. A film is usually three acts with the middle act being as long as the other two acts put together, and screenplays historically are figured at a page a minute. A novel can be any amount of pages from 200 to 1500. A song can be a single or a concept album. A piece of sculpture can be an ornament or a monument. You get to decide the scope of your work but analyse existing works to see how many pages they are, how many words, how big, how small etc. If you write comics do you know how many pages are in a normal size comic? How many panels? How many words per speech bubble? You need to know this stuff so do some research.

As you can start to see structure is more of an intellectual exercise than a creative one. You have the idea and the style, which are creative work much like a rough blueprint, then you have the start of construction, the hard hat area when the thing is going to be built. The construction site is not a creative place. It is a place where everything has to be the right size for the job. Make that your mission when planning the structure of your work.

So patiently and somewhat passionlessly you build the underlying structure. Then when you have done that you are ready for more creative work.

Step 5: FILLING THE STRUCTURE WITH IDEAS

You recall that book of ideas you made at the beginning? Well now is the time to go back to it and start filling in the spaces between your ideas with other ideas. Have more thinking sessions. This time instead of the overall idea and structure of the piece, do a session for each individual scene or phrase in the piece.

How does the first scene get to the second scene? How do we get to the first major plot point? How do we getting into the second act? How does that feel? Does it feel forced and arbitrary or does it feel natural? If not retry it until it fits. It’s like putting together a broken vase with Blu-Tack. Test your work all the way along, not getting too specific at this point, just refining and adding more ideas.

As I said at the beginning ideas have a weight, they cluster together as you add more of them to the mix and once they reach a certain mass they start having their own mass. The story, the art, starts having a momentum of its own. It’s like rolling a tiny ball of snow at the top of a hill. At a certain point it gets big enough to roll under its own weight. When you reach that point the story just rolls along on its own and kind of writes itself.

There follows a process of filling in tinier and tinier pieces of detail, using words or brush strokes, initially like shovelling rocks to fill in the spaces, the gravel, then sand, then dust, until the surface of your story is smooth and seamless.

The cool thing about this part is that this is where you get to finesse your work, adding all those subtle quirks of language and artistic flourishes that you love to do in your work. It’s almost done. You filled in all the blanks, you have a finished piece. Or do you?

Step 6: POLISHING

Now you need to rest. You need to forget about it for a while. Put it away somewhere and go out with all those friends you’ve been neglecting while you created your masterpiece. Have some fun and celebrate the fact that the work is done. It’s not, but you need to act like it is to relax about the next phase which is almost as much work. Polishing.

Now you need to go back to your piece and go through tweaking details. Look at it as a whole. See how it flows from start to finish making notes about all the humps and bumps along the way. Look at it from all angles. Which bits stick out as being rough, hasty or just plain wrong?

Polishing is the hardest bit in many ways, knowing when to stop. Experience plays a big part in this, but it really comes down to learning to trust your instincts. You know instinctively when something is good, when it’s finished. You see the glaring details that are wrong, that are not fitting with other elements. The words are slightly wrong, or the colours, or the sounds. Something is wrong. You know it. So fix it. Make it better. Concentrate on every part one by one and make it as good as it can be. You’re gone from general to specific, so refine, polish, and sometimes remove. Venus de Milo looks better without the arms? They bug you? Cut em off, no prisoners. Be ruthless. Make it good.

And… suddenly at a certain point, you’ll feel it. You’ll be done. Finished. Feels good, doesn’t it?

So that’s composition, bringing your ideas to life. But what about your ability to bring a lot more skill to the table when composing your chosen art? How do you get good?

Phase Two: Having the experience and skill
PRACTISE PRACTISE PRACTISE

How able you are at bringing your ideas to fruition is a matter of repetition. Getting good at what you do or what they call “working through the suck” is a longish process and involves you DOING what you do rather than merely TALKING about it.

If you are a writer you must write, every day. If you are a painter you must paint, or at least draw every day. A guitarist? Practise every day. A photographer? Carry a camera with you everywhere. Take pictures every day. Do your art day after day. You’ll get good, no question. If you are passionate about your art then this should be a godsend. I’m giving you permission to do something you love as much as you can fit into a day.

Wait, it’s too much of a strain for you? Don’t have time? Well, ok maybe you are not cut out for this kind of work. Too busy? Rubbish. You’ll always make time for things you love. Only takes 5-10 minutes a day. Do it every day, no excuses. You have to. You have to “work through the suck.”

“Working through the suck” was a phrase coined I think by US broadcaster and writer Ira Glass. He puts it that as an artist you have really great taste in the art you love, and you aspire to be just like your favourite artists. You love their ideas and the way they express them. But the problem with having really good taste is that by comparison you just don’t measure up, in your eyes at least you “suck”.

Many good young artists never become great old artists because they give up at this point before they ever get good. But the thing to remember is that most people get better and better at what they do if they do it enough, and the breakthrough almost always comes just after they were about to give up.

Have you ever played a computer game? Ever got to that bit where you just can’t get through to the next level no matter how hard you try? You try and try and try till you are so tired, angry and bored you just give up and go onto some other game or give up computer games completely. But have you ever stuck at a game and refused to give up till you beat that level? You did? And the game was much easier after all that practise, wasn’t it? You got good. At some point you got over the hump and got good.

You worked through the suck.

Once you get good at what you do then all the problems start to evaporate. Once you get good at what you do then the only problem becomes how to get ideas and how to hang on to them.

There is another element which comes into play in all art; the delivery of the piece adds something over which you have no control. The actors and directors who produce your film. The brain of the reader reading your novel or comic book. The mood of the person listening to your music. All of these things affect the final result. It’s like a perfume that adds the woman’s own skin scent to it and becomes subtly different to the nose as a result.

Fortunately for you there is nothing you can do to plan or imagine where these additional mutations of your idea will take it after it leaves your hands, but it’s something to think about.

For now that’s really it. All you need to know to be a creative genius, in one lesson. Seriously. If you read, understand and apply everything I’ve just said you will become productive and original, and produce compelling art that people really enjoy. Good luck and let me know if this piece has helped you.

oOo

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Thanks again, and see you next time.

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19 thoughts on “How to be a Creative Genius

  1. I always feel like creativity is a delicate balance between skill and this zen-like state of relaxation. You have to be able to get lost in the work, but you also have to know what you’re doing (to some extent). However, the most important thing is enjoying the creative process!

    1. You’re absolutely right. Good writing is always executed in a state of “flow” for want of a better word. But as you point out, being chilled is not all of it, you need to have the skill to surf the wave, as it were.

      Thanks for the comments. Much appreciated.

    1. Thanks for the praise. Funny how being praised for your work never gets old. 🙂

      If you want to write a blog I find the thing is to just start it. Write something, anything, even if it’s just a couple of lines like you just did. You’ll find your blogging will get easier the more you do it.

      Good luck.

      1. Yes, I’m trying to figure that out myself at the moment. My blog is becoming a record of me sorting myself out.

        At this moment, I’m primarily a teacher and a leader.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this. It was very original and inspiring. I’m a writer (nobody famous, sadly) but I appreciate how you likened the writer’s creative process to other aspects of artistry. I especially liked the imagery of adding tiny brush strokes to finish a piece.

    “But the problem with having really good taste is that by comparison you just don’t measure up, in your eyes at least you “suck”.

    This part I absolutely appreciate because I am exactly at that point. Having read so much good writing, and about the craft of good writing, I think all my attempts – there’s no better word for it – suck. But I still want to write and figure I’ll get better with practice. Well said.

    I’ve signed up to your newsletter. Can you suggest any legitimate online methods for getting some critique for my work?

    Thanks for writing. I’m about to go read some more of your blog.

    1. Having a blog, as you have ably demonstrated by commenting, is a good way to get your writing out there and getting people reacting to it. There are a TON of web sites devoted to putting artistic work out in the public eye and getting feedback, Redbubble and Deviant Art spring to mind, but actually the critical feedback you get might be light on experience.

      I’m a bit suspicious of people who charge for critiquing writing but sometimes it’s the best way to get honest and professional pointers about your work. Most working professionals don’t have time to read other people’s writing, so paying for their time is the only way it works for both parties. (Come to think of it I really should do that!)

      The other way is to work hard, write a LOT and try and get published by any means necessary. Along the way you will get some critiques of your work, but not much because editors are among those busy professionals I was speaking about earlier, they just don’t have time.

      There is one group who WILL read your stuff for free and give you an honest appraisal. AGENTS. If you seek a literary agent then they will read your best stuff and let you know what they think. But this comes with a warning. They will be professional and courteous for the most part but they will also be brutally honest. Be sure you are ready for that.

      Also there are many many writers groups, probably in your home town, and certainly online. Join one and share the pain. 🙂

      You might also look up my friend Nick Daws who is a fantastic writing coach and publishes a lot of great ebooks about how to sell your writing. http://nickdaws.co.uk/ he has some great tips in his newsletter. (Mine is broken at the moment but fixed soon.

      Thanks for your comments and good luck with your writing.

      Phil

  3. Thank you for your article! I am so glad I stumbled across it when I was looking for some tips on starting my next short story for an undergrad fiction contest. I was challenged and encouraged to pursue my art as well, or to decide which of my various arts I should continue to pursue. I started a blog this summer to try to develop my writing style from journaling to something for my audience, but I fear I am still using it for my journal and to figure out my life. I primarily write about dance, since I had a brief stint as a professional ballet dancer. I agree with and was simultaneously challenge to “practise”. I know well that for every day you don’t practice your art, it gets that much harder to get back to it. I needed that reminder. So, thank you.
    Last thing, I promise: I was thrilled to find you are a professor in the UK because I am looking forward to studying English abroad in the UK next semester!
    all the best,
    Rebecca

    1. Thanks for your comments. Yep, you need to practise. Then do it some more. In dance this is a physical imperative, because if you don’t dance you soon can’t. But in writing and painting it’s the same too, you lose that sparkle, that freedom to go in any direction.

      Good luck with your various arts, and feel free to do them all, all the time. Why not? 🙂 And have fun in the UK. It’s a good place to learn, just try not to also learn how to binge drink, we’re pretty good at that.

      Phil South

      PS. you left a ‘s’ out of your blog address so it brings up an error. I added the ‘s’ manually after I figure out what the problem was so I did actually get to read your blog. Good work.

  4. Seems like you have some comment issues here (above) but I just wanted to point out that there are plenty of protective measures you can take on this particular platform to stop these abuses. Drop me an email and I will be happy to go through with you some of the options.

  5. Very nice article! I’m a musician and there was a time when I didn’t think I had what it would take to be one. “How To Be a Creative Genius” reads like a recounting of how I got there, AND stands as a reminder of what there is left for me to do to get on to the next level. Thank you.
    Kenti

    1. Thanks Kenti, it’s actually my dream to model the creative process so it can be easily taught to writers, musicians and artists, and it’s good to know what I’m doing speaks to people like you who are further along the journey. Thanks for getting in touch.

      Phil

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