Except for, perhaps Anesthesiologists

2 easy steps to kill creativity

So you’ve finally faced the truth. You read all the books, traveled the world, took a loan bigger than your wallet will ever be, and now you’ve realized your creativity is balding and not just thinning out. You’ve ignored a lot of the signs, and many of those signs are actually collection notices. You’re no creative professional.

Don’t cry. People like you… you just don’t have it in you. But I’ve got some good news. Come a little closer.

That’s better.

The 50 highest-paying jobs don’t require any creativity at all. It’s true! In fact, creativity might only get in the way in these fields. You wouldn’t want your surgeon experimenting with a new incision technique on your abdomen. So they’ve learned to fend it off. In a world of Pinterest and inspirational YouTubers, they have learned techniques to keep the mind dull. The same techniques featured in this article.

I see the look on your face. You think killing your creativity is going to be hard. It won’t be. Not for you; you’ve read all the books. Just flip them on their heads and the guides toward creativity can help lead you away from it. With just a little bit of reverse engineering, the same stair steps leading up to the sky can take you far down into the basement. Allow me to demonstrate.

Living an uncreative lifestyle

Let’s try something. Close your eyes. But keep them open to continue reading. Now imagine an ordinary toothbrush, and try to think of five ways to use it for something other than dental hygiene. If that comes easy to you, you may skip this section. But if your response was “wait, what?” then you are in luck! Your mind has not yet been tainted with the creative demon. But to keep your mind dull, things from inspiring you, and me without competition, I have made you a personal three-step checklist.

Avoid all accidental research

Research is the enemy of the dull mind. Sometimes, nothing more than a tiny detail in the way something moves is enough to spark a cascading rush of inspiration. Of course you can’t isolate yourself from all learning, but there is a way to ensure that it won’t lead to ideas.

When learning something new, make sure never to learn more than what you absolutely need. Tell yourself that your memory can only hold so much, and you wouldn’t want to fill it with knowledge you may never use. That way you will minimize the chance of finding a creative catalyst.

Seek inspiration

It sounds contrary to what I just told you, but research and inspiration are, in fact, two very different things. Whereas research impels you to dive deep in a subject and retrieve little gold nuggets, inspiration leads the way to Pinterest. That is the site where you look at millions of creative pictures, copy the ones that fascinate you, and never go through the creative process yourself.

Finding creativity is much like catching a squirrel. If you chase after it, it will keep its distance, but if you arrange everything so that it will come to you, it will come. So don’t do that.

Keep your mind occupied

Let’s be real here. Boredom never leads to anything good. It is a weather-wasting, insanity-inducing, despisement-driving waste of time for procrastinators. Fill every moment of silence with music, every minute of idle time with phone games, because creativity nests in an unstimulated mind.

This is the path to an uncreative lifestyle. Follow these steps, and I guarantee that you will never become a painter, a movie director, a musician, or a sculptor. “But what if I already am one of those?” you ask. First of all, I’m getting to that. Second of all, I’ll get to that right now.

Quench the creative mind

So you’ve fucked up—driven too far down the highway of creativity. You’re a creative genius now and you turn around to see that you’ve left little kittens on the road behind you, so there’s no driving back. Creativity hides a dark secret: The longer you stay in its presence, the harder it fastens its cruel grip. No one said this would be easy, Thomas. Go get some duct tape and let’s glue that accelerator to the fucking floor.

The next time you get a sudden rush of inspiration, follow it. We can work with that; inspiration is just a weak mash of things you’ve seen in the last few days anyway. What matters is the way you treat it.

Go to the screen immediately. Don’t start planning—that would just add structure while you’re focusing on imagination. The human mind is very bad at focusing on multiple things at the same time, so you want to make sure you’re simultaneously working on structure, aesthetics, phrasing, goals, and improving your workflow.

Keep your end goal in mind throughout the whole process. You know what you want it to look like; you know there’s no point in experimenting with that. Thinking this way ensures that any minor hindrance will stop you completely in your tracks. With no alternative to the goal you imagined, you will be stifled, and with one final ingredient you will be forced to abandon the project altogether:

Set your expectations sky-high. You must be original at all costs. Refuse all mediocrity, and you ensure that every small setback becomes a needle in the creative heart. Prod it enough, and eventually it will stop beating. Now don’t look back. The kittens lived a great life.

PS Some have interpreted this article as a sideways look at the creative process—a sort of list of things to avoid. Make no mistake; I do not advocate creative behavior as a result of reading any my work. Nor do I encourage visiting my ArtStation.