How to be Creative?

GapingVoid has made some good noise lately by releasing a Creative Commons licensed book on “how to be creative.” It’s in PDF form and also on the web.

I’d say it’s partly brilliant and partly wrong-headed.

I think that depending on who you are when you read it you are either going to take away the brilliant parts and think it’s a wonderful book or the wrong-headed parts and come away the worse for it.

Wrong-headed: he doesn’t (at least on the face of it) shake the myth of Successful People vs Losers. He’s always talking about failed creative people who work as waiters and whatnot. But then he’ll turn around and say: “Even if your path never makes any money or furthers your career, that’s still worth a TON.” Well, wait a minute. Should we pity the pathetic losers working as waiters because they didn’t have sufficiently different or unique ideas, or should we realize that what they’re doing may be “still worth a TON”?

There is a lot of this kind of conflict going on in the work. He takes a broad “everyone can do this, it doesn’t take special talent, just hard work” tack in one section, and then he talks about how really talented people “don’t need props” and mere hacks do. Wait, does talent matter or not?

Again and again he equivocates on really important issues. I think he says some really deep & true & important things, things where society’s assumptions are wrong and harmful, and we need to see the truth, but then he lapses back into those wrong assumptions on another page.

This is frustrating. But I think it’s a good book nonetheless, and I am really glad he wrote it and made it available. Lot of very very good stuff in there.

And I must admit I wrote this before finishing it, so I may have missed some very important stuff before the end.