As is common on the eve of Compelling Storytelling, I am filled with antiicpation. Spending three days watching participants make fresh creative discoveries that will impact their businesses is just about the most fun I can imagine.

Creativity still is a mysterious force, but the behavior that welcomes it is not mysterious at all. Unfortunately, too many people are oblivious to the possibilities of what can happen when we tap into our own idea factory.

I have been spellbound several times listening to Stephen King’s audiobook On Writing. King, one of the big names in popular fiction, weaves his advice to would-be writers in between autobiographical tales. A voracious reader and fan of sci-fi movies as a kid, King fell in love with the writing life in childhood and has never put down his pen since. 

Married right out of college, King supported his family by working at several horrendous jobs and then as a high school English teacher. Even with two young children squeezed into cramped quarters, he always managed to find room for a writing corner and practiced his craft daily. The result is a mind-boggling body of work that includes short stories, novels, movies and television productions. 

King knows more than a little about the writing life and at one point mentions a number of writers—Harper Lee comes to mind—who produced a single book and then were silent. “Why,” King wonders, “if God gives you a gift, wouldn’t you use it?” 

What Stephen King, understands is that creativity begets creativity. The creative spirit that resides within all of us is prolific, abundant, and flagrantly generous. It’s only when we ignore our own creative impulses that they appear to go away.

What does it take to live a life of extraordinary creative output? The answer is not slavish workaholism—as many people think. Creators all work in their own unique ways, of course, but  there are several obvious characteristics that creative folks share. 

Besides a high level of commitment and discipline, the prolific creators among us are enormously curious about many things. They don’t dabble. They immerse.The creative thinker is always gathering ideas and inspiration from far-flung places and people. For instance, King frequently asks himself questions beginning with, “What if” to form new connections between seemingly unrelated ideas. They look, they listen, they’re fully alive. 

“The idea flow from the human spirit is absolutely unlimited,” says Jack Welch. “All you have to do is tap into that well.” And then go to market.

 

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