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?

One response to “The Downside of Creativity?

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

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