The Downside of Creativity?


Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things. — Ray Bradbury

I once nearly got fired (or maybe it was “I almost quit”) from an ad layout job because I was thinking. Problem was, I thought I was being creative, or, at the very least, using my creativity to solve a problem.

The problem:  Fitting a vendor-supplied graphic into a finite space (the ad size the advertiser had paid for).

My solution: Cropping out extraneous elements in the artwork to make it, and the the ad copy, fit in the allotted space.

I must tell you, this occurred in the mid-Seventies (1976, to be exact). At least at the small paper I worked for, ad layout was done with scissors, glue pots, and rulers.  “Cropping” meant wielding scissors at the piece of artwork.  There was no seamless “Undo” function.  So, once I cropped the artwork, there was really no turning back.

Imagine my dismay when the publisher (it was a very small paper) called me into his office to severely (and loudly) criticize me for “thinking too much.” My transgression:  I had cropped out the line-drawing pine trees from the photo of the work boot.  To make matters worse, this was an ad the publisher had sold directly with the vendor; it wasn’t sold by one of his salesmen.

It was almost lunchtime, so I left for lunch, drove to my girlfriend’s house, and wailed that “I’m NOT going back to that place! The guy’s an IDIOT!!!”  Well, she “talked me down,” and I did go back.  And I started looking for a new job.

The Take-Away?

I’ve never forgotten that episode.  I’ve tried to think creatively much of the time.  Unfortunately, when my creativity fails me — or when I don’t take the time to let creativity present me with an answer — I get frustrated.  It’s hard to force creativity; but it’s even harder to force myself to NOT think.

What are your thoughts on creativity? How have you used it? When do you wish you had?

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One response to “The Downside of Creativity?

  1. Pingback: A Patchwork Jumble Retrospective – 2011 | Patchwork Jumble

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