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Creatively Intellectual - or Intellectually Creative

The biggest myth about creativity is that it just happens. It's time to call bulls**t on that one. Listen to what Frank Gehry says in the newest issue of The Atlantic in a series on creative genius:

Compared with when I was just starting out, I'm faster now. I'm better. I know where the bullsh**t is. I'm pretty good at editing it out before I let it go too far.

This from the man whose buildings all have a signature style and who recently designed the concert hall of The New World Symphony in Miami (pictured above). Creativity takes time. It may not necessarily take hours to craft one great piece of work (unless you're Jay-Z, according to Lupe Fiasco, who is also interviewed in the magazine about his process), but it takes longevity. Experience. Study.

This is why I - who makes a living in the creative worlds of writing, speaking, and consulting - research. I read. For me, that's part of the creative process. If I just lived in the world of my art - and not out in the world of everything else - my creativity would suffer. You need to test that which you're making in the refining fire that is everyday life. It's time for the creatives to be equally intellectual and it's time for the intellectuals to work on being creative.

Maybe this is why art hasn't yet cured cancer and why science hasn't yet cured cancer. Maybe it's why lots of art makes people shrug in disbelief, as do some research projects. Until brains and creativity collide, all we have are colors on canvas or numbers on paper. We need the stroke of genius that comes with experience to translate each to us. We need meaning behind art and meaning behind intellect. Otherwise, we're rolling around in a bunch of bulls**t.

Malcolm Gladwell posited that it takes 10,000 hours to get good at something. A guy named Dan is putting that theory to the test in trying to become a professional golfer in five years (thanks to kottke.org for the find). It could happen. But, those creative geniuses we all love didn't hone their skills in just five years as if it were a graduate degree. Their greatness came while they were mothers or friends, distracted or focused, overweight or regimented, in love or heartbroken.

Life is too complex, and so is creativity, to live in a vacuum. Create something. Then test it. Then repeat. It's the only way to get better.

Genius happens when creativity meets intellect. We need more of that - everywhere.

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