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7Jul/111

Making the Accidental Incidental – Todd Henry’s “The Accidental Creative”

"Anyone can improve his ability to generate good ideas consistently, if willing to be a little more purposeful in how to approach the creative process."

More and more jobs nowadays call for the use of serious brain power and creativity.  Even, the seemingly non-creative fields.  Yet, so few workers seem to have "time" for just sitting down and having a good think.  Todd Henry, author of "The Accidental Creative:  How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice," thinks this needs to change.

He tells the story of giving a talk at a conference and asking:

"How many of you would say that great ideas are critical to the future of your career or business."

Most hands go up.  But when Todd asks how many people devote time in their day to idea generation, almost no hands remain.

"What am I supposed to do?!  Just sit in my office thinking?!" are the typical complaints.

And, the answer is:

YES.

In Todd's mind, it's all about eliminating fake work from your life--mindless monitoring of e-mail for example--and doing real work.  The truly tough work.  The thinking work.  As a creative worker, you're paid for the value you create, not how much time you spend on something, yet so many of us still insist on believing in the old 1950s model that working long hours equals doing good work.  We're not factory workers, we're thinkers!  All that matters is the work that has been created!  Not how long it took.

"Because we tend to gravitate toward possibilities, many creative people wrestle with focus."

Todd is a firm believer in a strict scheduling of creativitiy.  It seems silly at first, if not impossible, but I must admit by following his ways he's helped me become more creative in a short amount of time.

I've quickly begun utilizing Todd's "Big Three" to great effect.  This calls for having a list of the three biggest "open loops" in your life which you are forced to stare at throughout the day.  I've taken to writing out my Big Three (usually a new book I'm working on, a screenplay idea, maybe a freelance piece) at the start of the week and then carrying it around in my pocket at all times.  And, you wouldn't believe how much this has helped my process.  Now, almost through osmosis, I'm thinking about these creative problems even when I'm not thinking about them--walking the street, riding the subway, while working out, etc--and getting so much more thoughtful work accomplished.  I come back from the gym or get off the subway and immediately sprint to my computer to write down everything I've thought of while "not working."

The Big Three technique sounds simple, and it is, but it's amazingly helpful at keeping your creative priorities always on your mind.  I advise you do likewise.

Many artist types, especially us writers, seems to believe that we can't influence our own creativity, that it just arrives with the muse (or a few glasses of Scotch) and then the magic happens.  Todd says not so and shows you why so in "The Accidental Creative."

In this way, Todd's book is similar to Steven Pressfield's great "The War of Art" and "Do the Work." If you dug those two books, you'll love this one.  But, while Steven's books are more pithy and inspirational, "The Accidental Creative" is a straight-up guide book for making you productively and efficiently creative.

For making you able to "create on demand."

It doesn't seem possible, but Todd shows it is.

Highly recommended.

BUY "The Accidental Creative"

(Oh, yeah, I get free shit.)

RELATED POSTS:

Mutual Admiration Society -- Todd interviews me

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