Untitled: Thoughts on the Creative Process

August 5, 2011

Blaine hoganBlaine Hogan makes me sick.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the guy. I’ve known him for five years, and I’ve enjoyed every moment I’ve spent with him. He’s one of the most creatively expressive people I know, and even his Keynote presentations in grad school made me ooh and aah.

It’s not really Blaine that makes me sick, but my envy of how easy it is for him to make great stuff. The book I’m about to tell you about is a great example. Blaine became a new dad this year, and somehow in the midst of that, he found time to write a fantastic little ebook about making stuff. I’ll probably never speak to him again.

The book in question is called Untitled: Thoughts on the Creative Process. The irony of it is that while I’m disgusted at how easy he makes this look, the book describes how difficult creative work can be, and of course he is right. But he seems to make it look effortless. He’s such a jerk.

I’ll put aside my petty envies and jealousies to tell you that, if you want to make stuff, any kind of stuff, this book is for you. Blaine shares his learnings about creativity from his own work as a stage actor, a TV actor, a creative director, a writer, a human, and a theology student (perhaps the most creative endeavor of all). And he has great reflections. Some of it echoes my own experiences. Much of it details how he has worked through challenges that I’ve only had the slightest glimpses of. All of it is good.

It’s the kind of book that I will revisit from time to time. It will be worth taking an hour every year or so to read back through it to be stimulated, sharpened, encouraged, inspired and butt-kicked. Below are a few of the quotes that did just that for me:

As I poured over my stacks of notes from the last few years, there were five words that kept repeating themselves again and again. These five principals guide every single piece I work on: Surprise Delight Remove Restrain Constraint”

“If I were to boil down the goal of all my creative work it would be this: Move people.”

“Awkwardness creates space for us to transform into better versions of ourselves if we let it. But… Most of us spend our entire lives avoiding awkwardness at all costs.”

See what I mean?

(By the way, Blaine sent me a copy to review, but I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Yada yada yada.)

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