i believe that both our economic and spiritual future, good or bad, is directly related to our ability to unlock the latent creativity within us.

[Buy the “Create Or Die” print here etc.]

I believe that both our economic and spiritual future, good or bad, is directly related to our ability to unlock the latent creativity within us.

There. I’ve said it.

It’s been six years since I first started blogging what would eventually end up being my first book, Ignore Everybody.

The book didn’t really start off with a plan. Like I said at the very beginning,

“So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years.”

That was it. One person’s ramblings. No big, authoritative volume with lots of practical how-to’s, case studies and academic citations.

Some people didn’t care for that. “I paid $23.00 for a hardback edition and I expect RESULTS, dammit!”


Ah. But I never said anything about results. There was no plan, you see. That’s because there is no plan. There never is.

Writing about creativity is a messy business because creativity is a messy business.

Even using the word “creativity” in conversation is going to get you in trouble from some quarters. Stick your head above the parapet for just a few seconds and watch the arrows start flying at you.

Yet somewhere in the back of our minds, we all know it’s too important a subject to ignore, too important a reality not to confront.

Why? Because when I first started writing Ignore Everybody, I was coming at it from a very personal angle. Confronting one’s existential need to be “creative”, to express oneself etc. Which is why the book did so well with teenagers, college students and young adults just starting out in the working world. That’s the time of life to be thinking about all that.

But now, six years later I’m a bit older and bit more experienced. Maybe a lot more.

And time and experience has led me to conclude that even if we hate the word “creativity”, even if it’s a nasty, annoying, sophomoric, hipster-dipster, New Age gagfest that really should have no place among the serious, results-orientated world of equally serious, result-orientated grownups…

It’s where all meaningful growth is going to come from, both internal and external, whether we like it or not.

I don’t believe creativity can be taught, not really, but I do believe:

  • That with a bit of prodding in the right places, individuals can train themselves to be more creative.
  • That with a bit of prodding in the right places, individuals working as a team can train themselves to be more creative.
  • That with a bit of prodding in the right places, companies and organizations can train themselves to be more creative.
  • That with a bit of prodding in the right places, societies can train themselves to be more creative.

And that if they can do this, the value they create will be off the scale.

I’ll say it again: I believe that both our economic and spiritual future, good or bad, is directly related to our ability to unlock the latent creativity within us.

Let the journey begin…


  1. Great post, Hugh. I agree. At least for myself, I know that unlocking my creativity on an ongoing basis is key to my personal happiness!

    It has also been key to making my living (as an artist/designer). But even so, getting into a groove frequently results in getting stuck in a rut.

    So the need to keep unlocking that latent creativity! The more I work on this, the more in alignment I feel with my true self, and the happier I am (despite my bank balance at any given moment, I might add).

    I suspect I’m not alone in this, and am passionate about helping others do the same. Which in itself requires some creative thinking!

    Love your art, your book and your blog! Thanks Hugh!

    • Ah, Melissa, you make an excellent point: That “unlocking latent creativity” is not a one-off event, that’s it’s an ongoing process. Totally.

  2. I fully agree, Hugh. The problem that I continually run into (and I’m sure everyone has this problem) is that the prodding often means unlearning ingrained habits which can be painful. It’s easier to forgo the prodding in favor of ignorance and complacency but we’d miss out on the meaningful growth we would’ve otherwise gained.

  3. Hugh,
    Simply, Bravo!
    After a morning of reading about how “success” has conquered “failure” and made it part of the “success formula”, so success is found only by embracing failure, your post restores fresh air into the room.

    Therefore, Can’t stay, off to do some creative thinking!
    And, Thank you!

  4. I think Kurt Vonnegut would have agreed with you:

    “I now believe that the only way in which Americans can rise above their ordinariness, can mature sufficiently to rescue themselves and to rescue their planet, is through enthusiastic intimacy with works of their own imaginations.”

    He wrote that in the preface to Wampeters, Foma & Granfallooons. Might be worth digging that one off the bookshelf.

    • Great quote, Thanks!

      This is what irritates me about politics- the cultivation of the belief that the only way to solve problems is by voting for the right guy- Rep, Dem or whoever.

      Or passing the right law… or raising the right tax.

      • Profound comment, Hugh.
        Our imaginary no-fault, my hands are clean, it’s “their” fault society makes it easy to choose to be blind and uncreative.

        A key is your “prodding in the right places” approach. Start prodding!

  5. I am new to your blog and enjoyed reading this post. Reading it brought to mind the classic Samuel Beckett quote:

    ‘The expression that there is nothing to express, nothing with which to express, nothing from which to express, no power to express, no desire to express, together with the obligation to express.’

    All too often it is easy to perform mechanically and to avoid real expression. But as an artist is obliged to express themselves even when nothing happens, we should all learn to express ourselves truthfully. Challenging more the things we think, we hear and we learn. Creativity perhaps means thinking harder and finding an opportunity to communicate ones thoughts. In any medium whatsoever, words, pictures, music, dance, technology, even business speak.

  6. Great thoughts Hugh, creativity is a messy business. And then within the context of a busy life can be even messier, but oh so necessary. Life creates life, and consciousness create consciousness.

    Our individual and collective creative acts is what keeps us evolving in all directions.

    • Hey Patrick,

      Yeah, everybody wants to be creative. And everybody also wants to be busy and productive.

      And that’s where the “Messy” begins 😀

  7. Your book and newsletter are a daily inspiration, and I would argue the inspiration is perhaps the greatest form of creativity. Keep ’em comin’, Hugh!

  8. Wonderful post and I’m so glad I saw your Tweet about it. I have always thought of creativity and spirituality being connected. Not religion, spirituality. And my good friend, Jory Sherman, always talks about how we are all connected to a great spirit of creativity that encompasses all forms of creative expression. Some truth there, I’m thinking.

  9. Hi Hugh,

    I followed your tweet to read your most important post as well.

    Yes, creativity will be at the forefront of our “new” economy. That is, if we let it. At the moment, we are repressing creativity (sideways thinking, upside down thinking, diagonal thinking) in our young ones with all this hyper organization, uber testing and onerous amounts of homework. Set those kids free!

    Creativity can’t happen without imagination and imagination can’t happen without freedom of thought/movement.

    I bought and loved your book. A book can’t give a person results. It can only inspire a person to let loose enough to make his or her own results.

    Yours in imagination, Giulietta

  10. To create is to add depth.

    I fell off the grid a few years back. I had been pushing numbers, initiating strategy, ruthlessly pursuing business summits. Then I killed it all. It all tasted like the print advert of an incredible meal.

    I started hanging with artists, musicians, writers, and other creatives. They never asked where I was going. To them, I was there. And that was the difference.

    We started-together. They helped me summon the greek goddess of the creative. She birthed a spark of desire and fanning that flame is the only thing that makes sense anymore.

    Posts like these (and the conversations around them) bring substance to what seems like an internet to the people instead of with people.

    Fucking killer Hugh.

    Your sketeches, words, and stories have been launching points to people around me. I send people here often. I post your drawings when they say what 1000 words can not.

    This is what creativity/ideas beg for. To be set free. To have unsafe sex and produce offspring.

    You are fertile.

  11. Refreshing thoughts in a world where most people believe that creativity is black magic only practiced by individual wizards in dark corners.

    Most people cannot do it alone — that fact that you (who I perceive as one who can create alone) realizes that teams, organizations and societies can be creative as well given the right tools is most refreshing.

    Many people go through their lives never participating in any creative experience – never realizing that working with the right people as part of a team or organization can be just as creative and rewarding in its own way as the fruits of individual creativity.

  12. Just discovered your blog – WOW!

    But I’m with you, through creativity I found my voice that I want to use to change the world, and I do believe it can be done with a bit of prodding in the right places. Now on to finding the right places.

  13. On the spiritual side, there’s a reason His nom de plume is ‘The Creator’.

    On the economic side (big E), there are two ways to get things of value – create them or take them. Too many economic problems of today stem from too much focus on ‘taking’ and not enough on ‘creating’.

  14. That’s a very broad statement, Hugh. Of course a society’s future-good or bad-is dependent on creativity. Our energy crisis can be sold with the right creativity. Political campaigns can be won with creativity. But in a society driven by corporations and big dollars, does creativity matter? Or better put, will the creative voices be heard?

    • It is a broad statement but I take from it (and agree with Hugh) that our very survival as a species and even as a planet may/will depend on
      a)vast numbers of the population unlocking their creativity and potential
      b)those newly unlocked masses getting/being creative enough to solve the problem of being heard.

      For me, it’s similar to the question of heaven and hell. It doesn’t really matter so much whether they exist. I find I reap the reward of living and acting for the benefit of others right now, so whether there are punishments or rewards at the end is not really an incentive to me. Same for creativity, it definitely matters because every individual who finds it, explores it, and nurtures it in themselves and others can see and feel the benefits real time. It’s like that old joke about procrastination: it pays off NOW! haha!


  15. Interesting; insightful; inspiring … all words which everyone has thus far generously contributed are this and more. Personally I want more humour!

    I recently returned to work after a 10 year career break to bring up my children and the ‘gaping void’ I found between myself and my new, younger colleagues is humour – or rather, the lack of it.

    Creativity needs to be intense and serious at times, and I know from my own experience that low points in your life can often produce the most creative work, but there seems to be a cold irreverence in the workplace for lively banter these days. It’s almost deemed to be “uncool” to be amusing while you work. But I say, “lighten up!” I’m a 41-year-old English mother of 2 and I no longer care so much what people think of me. Life is meant for living – embrace it, feel it, let what touches you touch others, share the beauty, the pain, the will of the human mind and most of all, brighten someone’s day with a bloody good laugh!

    … signing up for the daily newsletter now! (0;


    • Helen,
      I totally agree with your take on life meant for living. I recently departed from the doldrums of a cold work place – not all of the people there were cold – but regardless, in my line of work there is NO EXCUSE for being anything but riotous fun! Tell the soggy bottoms you have encountered to get out of their fog and liven up. Somehow I think you already have.

  16. Regarding arrows and parapets…

    It’s kinda hard to write a poem or paint a masterpiece in the middle of a war zone (aka “the real world” or “daily life”). With all the repression (and the complementary mystique) surrounding this “creativity” thing, I think most of the “journey” for creative people is simply in getting to the point of feeling that creating new stuff is somewhere between permissible and totally cool.

    Maybe it’s a little bit like coming out and admitting you’re gay…except you have to go through it every day.

    I often agree with the authors who recommend a “quiet time” or “sacred space” which serves as a sort of castle where creativity is okay and allowed.

    But for some, the war zone IS their castle of creativity. And this may be a key to unlocking our latent creativity. Either daily life reveals itself directly to your creative sight, or you find a protected space where you can engage with things – on your own terms.