The Blurred Path to Greatness

I try sometimes to figure out how I got into this whole technology thing. I love it indeed and could list a plethora of reasons for that being so. But other times I just wonder if what I love is being a ‘mad scientist.

Letters to a Young Scientist

I was in Barnes & Noble the other day scanning through books that I am going to buy online and I came across the book by Edward O. Wilson, Letters to a Young Scientist and was immediately struck by something he wrote (and I am paraphrasing greatly here) because I have not purchased the book yet, so I don’t have it in front of me….

He wrote of the fact that if you are the type of person that likes to research and study, then you too can be great. In fact, you can be the best if you so choose. You just have to dedicate yourself to it. Yes, this might be the same inspirational gobbledy-gook you find on this motivational site or that motivational book (I like them too), but this is coming from a real, tried and true scientist. A successful one. I highly doubt, at his age he is aspiring to be the next Stephen Covey (certainly a worthy aspiration, however).

You don’t have to be a Genius to Change the World

Another thing he wrote that struck a nice melody (as opposed to a harmonious chord) was his affirmation that it was not necessary to be genetically predisposed to having an extraordinarily high I.Q. to be such a person. This was so motivating… and here’s why:

The internet has, all at once, given us access to all the information—for better or for worse—not the point of this. So, that means among other things, that everyone automatically is the answer key to a Trivial Pursuit game. Yep, we all have a complete pie. Can you imagine playing Trivial Pursuit these days with an iPhone? Not really a challenge, huh? This access to technology is good… but … it can be a bad thing if you are humble…. I’ll try to explain.

Czerny

Czerny

I consider myself to be ‘above average’ in intelligence. Perhaps I am just kidding myself. But I have made it a point all my life to read and acquire knowledge. I enjoy this side of life. Probably more than I enjoy anything else these days. What the internet’s omnipotence to ‘all things trivial’ has done, however, has a tendency to make one feel ‘less than intelligent.’ It doesn’t take me long to search through dozens of documents of whatever search term I’m looking for to make me feel as if I don’t possess any answers. Thus, leading to fatigue and ultimately, worse: discouragement and quitting.

Alas, E.O. Wilson says never fear. Because a ‘young scientist’, (and yes I consider a web developer a young scientist) does not need to possess an iq of 180. In fact, he goes on to claim that people with extraordinarily high IQs as such are actually ‘less likely’ to become raging, curious and obsessed scientists with incredible breakthroughs for the very reason that everything came so easily to them in the first place. An interesting argument for sure. One that can be argued the other way, of course. However, I like his hypothesis. And, indeed it makes a great deal of sense. The road to knowledge is long and varied.

The Soul of the Matter

For me it goes back to the matter of ‘soul.’ I remember for many years when I was learning to be a guitar player in a rock ‘n’ roll band that I had to apply my knowledge of music to an instrument that was to be played in bars & frat houses. It didn’t matter how many hours prior I had studied my God-forsaken Czerny exercises (I still have nightmares about them). Because all that mattered was that I put my soul into the music (Yes, the Czerny did help) which required a very very strong Gaussian Blur applied to the theoretical lines (the Czerny) of my ‘musical knowledge’ and my ‘passion’ (the Lennon) for music. The same is true with information.

I don’t know about you but for me I like the idea of living life believing that I can be the ‘greatest…” fill in the blank here.

How to Unblock Creativity Block

Creative Urges

In my experience, getting into a creative mindset is akin to having the ability to suspend your disbelief when watching a movie. If you are the type of person that easily cries when watching a movie or easily falls in love with a character from a story … or even enchanted with an athlete because of the heroic things they are capable of achieving while competing, then you are more than capable of being creative—in anything.

Too often I hear from people that they aren’t creative. I guess I understand. It is difficult to get yourself into a storytelling mindset at first. But once you find this particular place, you’ll be happy you did.

There are many things you can do if you find you have ‘creative-block.’ Most of the things that you’ll read about “How to be Creative” don’t necessarily work for me. Or, at least they don’t work when I think I need them.

Method 1 – Step Away

By far the most glaringly obvious. Especially if you are a digital artist. The barrage of tweets and images that you can accidentally ingest before you start to design something can have a tremendous impact on your creative flow.

This is the first thing to because it is usually what the problem is. I have to find my ‘flow,’ or ‘chi.’ Whatever you call it, you have to get in it if there is something that needs to flow from within.

Method 2 – Learn The Tools

Another big barrier for creativity often has to do with the tools you use to create.

For example, you can get a whole lot more creative with a guitar if you learn about the minor third and its relation to the scale.

You can exceed all wonders and expectations with Photoshop if you actually learn what the Multiply layer effect does – as opposed to just applying it because it looks cool for the given effect.

I took about 3 hours of courses on lynda.com for Adobe Illustrator because I can’t seem to scratch the surface of the power of that software. Just this alone gave me ideas that I never knew existed.

About Writer’s Block

The above methods are not something you should try if you have the infamous writer’s block. If you do, just remember that you are just making excuses, aka procrastinating.

Writing is in a totally different realm of creativity. It’s a craft that incorporates all of the sensory motor skills and, above all, language. That language is yours and is something that can only be developed by doing it. So, the way to cure writer’s block is simply to write. Or, as Li says, listen to T.Rex. (just good advice, that’s all).