The Accidental Creative

Words: Binwe Adebayo
Images: Sourced
Making creativity your every day purpose


“What if you didn’t have to leave your flashes of brilliance to chance? What if you could make those moments happen more often, or even on demand, just by changing your behaviour a little bit each day?” Todd Henry argues that this is possible – that those interested in creating high quality, dynamic work, could do so without waiting for that ecstatic 3am surge of inspiration. By harnessing behaviours and processes which stimulate consistent creative flow, The Accidental Creative method allows brilliance at a moment’s notice.

“You have a potential inside you that has yet to be tapped. I believe this to the core of my being, and it’s not just some pie in the sky talk to boost your self-esteem. You must begin today and you must act with conviction,” explains Henry in the preface of his work.

Using his work as a business creativity analyst and CEO of a consultancy firm called Accidental Creative, Todd Henry has spent his working life trying to understand how people can be prolific in their work as well as healthy and productive. This book, which explores this process has received critical acclaim, and is followed another bestseller, entitled “Die Empty”. Seth Gordon, author of Lipchin believes that The Accidental Creative is “invaluable for anyone who thinks for a living”.

At first glance, the ideas in this book may sound far-fetched and idealistic at best. After all, ‘creatives’ know that the process of producing high quality work requires time and the right environment for good ideas. But maybe it is possible to simulate the right environment by applying some of Henry’s concepts. By taking the impatience out of waiting for the
‘lightbulb moment’ and harnessing creativity in all aspects of life, Henry believes individuals will be less prone to the “feast and famine” approach to creating ideas. “So instead of waiting for creativity to magically happen in the cracks and crevices of every day life, you gain mastery over it and make it work for you.”

“The book is as practical in its writing as in its concepts.”

This is important reading for anyone in the business of creation. Musicians, writers and photographers are the type of people who spring to mind first, but this goes for anyone – even an accountant trying to devise a way to balance books more efficiently. Henry believes, and I tend to agree, that in order to create, we must place ourselves firmly in the front seat of our process, rather than allowing the volatile creative engine to drive us. It must be clear too that this is not a self-help “be-better-by-lovingyourself” kind of book. It takes it  approach from a practical perspective which seeks to demystify the hurdles which get in the way of creative flow. For example, Henry’s research has shown that the average young
person spends around 67 hours a year just checking their emails- not even opening, reading or replying to them – just checking to see if that little red light is flashing. That is time wasted for those of us who need produce highly quality craft which requires high concentration and interest. The Accidental Creative philosophy believes that we cannot be distracted by what might be out there, but focus on making the best of the process at hand.

“You should stop worrying about efficiency but rather focus on effectiveness. Because fake work is often less productive than no work at all. It zaps critical energy.”

The book is as practical in its writing as in its concepts. It does not seek to confuse, judge or instruct the reader, but rather provide tools which can be incorporated in everyday life. Through anecdotes, examples and visual description, the work presents its ideas in a most accessible way, and in reading it, I have found myself more in control of my creative process. Above all however, there must be a belief in high quality work. Despite the humdrum of modern living which often places the mundane tasks over the exciting, creativity must not be compromised.

“When you do reach the end of your life, you will be able to say that you engaged your life and your work with everything you had. You leveraged your abilities to their full potential and you didn’t take your best work to the grave with you. You died empty.”