Photo by Mami
I ruffled a few feathers over on Business of Design Online when I wrote about Why You Need to Be Organised to Be Creative. In the comments I was accused of writing ‘LIES!!! ALL LIES!!’ and ‘rubbish!’ because ‘Organisation and routine destroy creativity’ and ‘if you are organized you are probably not very creative’. It’s true that organisation and discipline are probably not the first thing that spring to mind when we think of creativity, but if you look at the actual working habits of highly creative people you’ll usually find these qualities in abundance. Hugh MacLeod puts it more pithily (and poetically) than I can:
Like making a fire from rubbing sticks together, creativity’s heat comes from work. Work requires dedication.
So I wrote that post (which became the first chapter of my e-book on Time Management for Creative People) to highlight the often-overlooked factor of organisation in the creative process – and I stand by it. But now I’m going to follow Roger von Oech’s advice to look at things in reverse and argue the opposite point of view.
Inspiration – the magic 1%
It’s all very well being organised and disciplined, but there comes a point where you have to let go of your carefully crafted structures. Creativity may be 99% perspiration, but without the magic 1% of inspiration, all your hard work will count for nothing. Just ask Salieri. And by definition it comes as a surprise, even a shock – we’re working away on a project or problem, and something unexpected pops into our minds: a line of poetry; a vivid image; a new idea; a catchy riff or rhythm.
Creativity is difficult, unpredictable and often frustrating – but once you’ve experience that ‘Eureka!’ moment of inspiration, it’s hard to imagine why you would devote yourself to anything else. That 1% makes the other 99% a worthwhile investment of effort.