Serious Creativity

There are two words guaranteed to destroy even the most energetic creative brainstorming session. Two words guaranteed to make idea generation impossible. Two words that, if uttered (or merely thought), guarantee that whatever it is you do will be complete and utter crap. No joke. No exaggeration. No exceptions.

These words:

Be Serious.

Seriousness has no place in the creative process. It is an idea killer. It is an energy- and enthusiasm-sucking black hole. It (and its partner in crime, Practicality) is the most evil, insulting, and destructive way of saying “No.”

When someone tells you to be serious, here’s what they’re really saying:
  • I am scared.

  • I feel challenged by the fact that you have ideas that I don’t understand and I can’t be bothered to think about how they might be relevant.

  • I don’t like your idea, or you, but I have nothing productive of my own to add to the discussion, so I think I’ll just shut you down.

  • Your enthusiasm makes me feel inferior.

  • Wow, I wish I could come up with something like that.

  • What will other people think?

  • I’m threatened by things that aren’t immediately quantifiable.

  • I feel safer in the Real World.

  • You’re making me look bad.

  • You’re weird.

  • I don’t get it.

  • I am stupid.

  • I don’t belong here.

Serious, practical, professional, realistic, objective, unimaginative, boring, hardheaded, worthless, static, uninspired, dead.

Seriousness has no place in the creative process.

Ban the word from all brainstorming sessions. And ban people who insist on saying it from the creative part of whatever it is you’re doing.

Bring them back in—if you must—when you start talking finances.