The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice by Todd Henry, Portfolio, $25.95, 240 pages, Hardcover, July 2011, ISBN 9781591844013
Todd Henry is a self-described “arms dealer for the creative revolution.” Continuing that metaphor, you can think of him as a freedom fighter of sorts, but he wisely understands that every struggle (even the creative struggle) needs to be organized.
There is the persistent myth that creativity results only from complete lack of boundaries and total freedom. The reality is that we are not capable of operating without boundaries. We need them in order to focus our creative energy into the right channels. Total freedom is false freedom. True freedom has healthy boundaries.
He challenges those he works with as a creativity consultant (which will include you once you pick up this book) to adopt the goal of being prolific, brilliant, and healthy. He explains why you need all three succinctly:
Prolific + Brilliant – Healthy = Burnout
Brilliant + Healthy – Prolific = Unreliable
Healthy + Prolific – Brilliant = Fired
Prolific + Brilliant + Healthy = producing great work consistently an in a sustainable way
This book speaks to everybody who has to be creative at work. For traditional creatives like designers and illustrators, it will help them establish more structure in their creative process; for more nontraditional creatives such as consultants and salespeople, it will help them unlock their latent creative abilities to improve their processes. And, whether you’re a writer trying to establish a regular blogging routine or a manager trying to find the time to generate ideas, the author believes the key to unleashing good, creative work is to establish a Creative Rhythm.
The Creative Rhythm is set by how you structure five elements in your life: Focus, Relationships, Energy, Stimuli, and Hours (F-R-E-S-H.) Henry gives a chapter to each of the F-R-E-S-H elements in the second part of the book. But before he gets you there, he devotes some time to overcoming some of the tensions, side effects and fears of creative life. He knows that “just to stay ahead of the work is often challenging enough,” and the more obstacles we can remove, the better.
No matter if you are an enthusiastic enlistee into The Creative Class, or simply an unwilling recruit because of your job description, you’re almost certainly involved in work that requires you to think and create for a living. The Accidental Creative is one of the best books to date on how to structure your ideas, and manage the creative process and work that comes out of it.