Creativity Isn’t Sexy. Creativity Is About Creating


“Entrepreneurship isn’t just about the sizzle. It’s also about the hustle. It’s fun doing what you love for a living, but it takes a lot of hard work to build and maintain that lifestyle.” –Andrew Marcus, CEO/MyTennisLessons.com

So much of startup culture is plagued by the idea that entrepreneurship is about hanging out in cool, aesthetically pleasing coffee shops, shared work spaces, conferences, incubators, etc. All of those things are details. Sometimes those details can provide a great deal of inspiration, but a preoccupation with them can easily get in the way of what truly matters. The best creators are the ones who, as my colleague Isaac M. Morehouse​ says, “know how to get stuff done” regardless of the conditions. Creativity doesn’t always sizzle, and meaningful work isn’t always sexy.

Robert Fritz, author of The Path of Least Resistance, suggests replacing the word “creativity” with the word “causality” as a way of emphasizing the importance of actually producing effects. While “creativity” often gets associated with personality attributes like eccentricity, originality, intriguing, or unique, “causality” opens our mind to the idea that having an impact, making a difference, and altering reality doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with the qualities we associate with creativity. So-called creative people often fail to translate their ideas and impulses into action, while many allegedly uncreative types are changing the world through old-fashioned diligence, discipline, and determination.

Here are some poignant words from Charles Bukowski, courtesy of Brainpickings, reminding us that creating is about . . . creating.

“– you know, I’ve either had a family, a job, something has always been in the way but now I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this place, a large studio, you should see the space and the light. for the first time in my life I’m going to have a place and the time to create.”
No baby,
If you’re going to create, you’re going to create whether you work 16 hours a day in a coal mine or you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children while you’re on welfare, you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown away. You’re going to create blind, crippled, demented, you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your back while the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment, flood and fire.
Baby, air and light and time and space have nothing to do with it and don’t create anything except maybe a longer life to find new excuses for.

To those who are easily seduced by the glitz and glamour of peripheral activity, Garrett Robinson says the following:

You have people who complain “they can never find the time” to create their art. Few people I know work SO MANY hours in a week that they couldn’t devote time to their art if they really wanted to. Take me, for example: Full-time job, married, two kids. You think I don’t have responsibilities? You think I don’t have obligations, even outside my 40-hour work week? And yet, I put in the time. I am consistently cranking out 5,000 words a day on my books. This week, I ADDED (not switched to) 5 script pages per day, in order to meet a deadline for a script competition that’s being held by an organization I belong to.
Maybe your extra time is taken up by things related to your art. Maybe you go to writing conferences. Maybe you attend seminars. Maybe you meet up with other friends, a workshop-type affair. Well, if you haven’t produced anything, those conferences, seminars and workshops are much less useful to you. You might be getting valuable data at them, but you won’t have much real-world experience to COMPARE that data against. So lay off the extracurriculars for a week or two and finish something. Whatever it is. Finagle some friends into helping you make a short film. Write series of short stories and publish them as a compendium on the Kindle. Do something. THEN go back to those workshops and seminars, fresh with some real world experience (AND, perhaps more importantly, with actual completed works that you can share with other artists and, possibly, agents and/or distributors who you may meet).

The message here is simple, yet easy to forget:

You don’t have to be in an ideal creative space in order to do creative work.

Society is filled with “artists” who never get around to making anything and “creative-types” who experience their creativity as a state of being while the world carries on without any tangible contributions from them. While there is nothing inherently wrong with mystical or psychological conceptions of creativity, a major problem emerges when would-be creators fail to produce the effects that matter most to them because they don’t consider their personalities, lifestyles, or conditions to be creative enough.

Creativity is about making things, building things, deconstructing things, renovating things, and designing things. Good weather doesn’t write songs. The beautiful art on the wall in coffees shops doesn’t build businesses. Living in a luxury condo won’t fill a blank canvas. The action-based process of creating is what does these things. And creating can be done anywhere at anytime by anyone who’s determined to fight for their right and responsibility to create.


T.K. Coleman is the co-founder and Education Director for Praxis, a 12-month apprenticeship program that combines a traditional liberal arts education with practical skills training, one-on-one coaching, academic mentoring, group discussions, professional development workshops, and real-world business experience. T.K. is an avid lover of ideas and blogs regularly on personal development, education, and philosophy at tkcoleman.com and the Praxis blog.

This post was originally published as “Creating Is About Creating” at www.discoverpraxis.com on April 6, 2015.