The Greatest Secret for Breakthrough Creativity

While I believe that everyone is creative, the truth is, real breakthrough creativity is rare – because it takes work, skill, and courage. But many pursue it, and as a result, there are thousands of websites, social media feeds, books and other resources on creativity. But from my perspective, the greatest secret for breakthrough creativity can be taken from a quote from novelist Kingsley Amis.

He was talking specifically about writing when he said, “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of one’s pants to the seat of one’s chair.” Put another way for our use, you could say, “Creativity is the art of connecting the seat of your pants to the seat of the chair.”

Creativity isn’t magic, good juju, and most of all creativity isn’t inspiration. Sure, inspiration is a good thing, but you can’t depend on it. For every one day that you’re inspired in your work, there are hundreds – sometimes thousands – of days that nothing happens. That’s why you need a foolproof method to make creativity happen.

The book “Daily Rituals” by Mason Currey tells the story of 161 creative professionals throughout history and charts their daily routine. The result is amazing. What I discovered from the list of writers, painters, musicians, and other creatives is that the vast majority were virtual slaves to a daily routine. They created the environment, schedule, and process that worked best for them – and then stuck to it.

So stop waiting for inspiration.  If you’re serious about creativity, then get seriously on a schedule. Stop waiting for the funding, the perfect team, more experience, the right timing, or better research.

Show up. Do the work. Commit.

Connect the seat of your pants to the seat of a chair.

This is your time.

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  1. All I can say is, “Amen Phil.” I’m a little over 4K hours into my crawl through my learning process to write, out of the 10K hours that is required to become a beginning craftsmen at writing.

    I find it so necessary to record my progress in my daily planner to keep me honest about how I spend my time each day and to track my meaningful pursuits in learning.

    Also, I have to say after two years of really pressing to learn the craft, I have days where I wonder how much more do I need to learn? As I study and write daily I find there is always more to learn so its imperative to keep going.

    Just a side note. Saturday I get to be a featured extra in a Rob Reiner production. As usual I will be all eyes and ears on the set to deliver what they need in front of the camera. But if I’m humbly allowed, I will be observing the set processes they use to get the shots they are attempting to capture. Surprisingly, these experiences on a movie or TV set is helping me to understand what producers and directors need in a spec screenplay that might help them to visualize what I’m trying to communicate in my spec screenplays.

    So it’s time for me to parlay my life experiences so I can deliver and and learn from them. Whoa, did you just hear the theme song from the Pirates of the Caribbean? Well … it was probably just me.

  2. Creativity by its very nature is beyond the norm, While the daily discipline of doing is being done, we still should stretch self to see what we’ve not seen before.

  3. When it boils down to it you got to put the a#$ in the chair. I don’t really follow a schedule and its worked out ok for me. But I know if I did I would be more productive but life short and I love to live hard and fast so. Heres to no schedule and creativity….yet you still got to sit down and edit….Love ya Phil

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