Great Talk on Creativity

When I saw that Bob Sutton called it “the best talk on creativity I ever saw,” I had to see it myself. He’s the author of several books I really like, a Stanford University prof, and his Work Matters blog has been on my list — here, in the sidebar — of good blogs for more than a year now.

When I saw it, I couldn’t resist; I wanted to share it. Here’s just a sample quote from somewhere in the middle of this talk:

…not just writers, but creative people across all genres it seems have this reputation for being enormously mentally unstable.

… even the ones those who didn’t literally commit suicide seemed to be really undone by their gifts.  Normal Mailer just before he died, in the last interview, said ‘every one of my books has killed me more.’ An extraordinary statement to make about one’s life’s work. But we don’t even blink when we hear somebody say this because we’ve heard that kind of stuff for so long and somehow we’ve collectively internalized and accepted this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow linked, and that artistry, in the end, will somehow always, ultimately, lead to anguish.

And the question I want to ask here today, is: Are you guys all cool with that idea?

Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of Eat, Pray, Love, a beautifully written, thoughtful, biographical travelogue, sort of. I liked that book so much that I was happy to click on Bob’s link and see what she had to say. She has a fascinating new — old actually, more than new, but for that you’ll want to listen to her — angle on creativity, work involving creativity, the pressure of the last successful work, and the value of showing up. This is really worth watching. And, by the way, if for any reason you don’t see the video here, you can click here to go to the source.


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