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Book Review: The Accidental Creative: How To Be Brilliant At A Moment’s Notice by Todd Henry

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Many of us imagine that creativity flows from the talented few as if from a faucet. Just turn it on and be flooded with brilliance. Todd Henry, in his book The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice (2011), argues that creativity is like any other skill that we must pay attention to and make room in our schedule to practice, lest we find ourselves with a dwindling supply of good ideas. This book is targeted for those who use their creativity for a living, both creatives (writers, artists, designers, etc.) and those who Henry calls “accidental creatives” (such as project managers), but the advice contained therein is useful for anyone who wants or needs to make creative production a part of their daily lives.

Creative work is not exempt from today’s fast-paced, 24/7, always-on mentality. Creatives are expected to produce in an on-demand manner, which often leaves them feeling like they are constantly in emergency mode and are just one day away from collapse. The purpose of this book is not to challenge this environment, but to teach creatives how to thrive within it. It’s a lesson in learning how the creative process ebbs and flows and carving out moments within the business day to allow for that natural rhythm to flourish.

Well known for his podcasts on this subject, Henry identifies common saboteurs of the creative process — dissonance, fear, and expectation escalation among them — and offers their remedy. By employing his five FRESH elements (Focus, Relationships, Energy, Stimuli, and Hours) a foundation for a healthy creative practice that is sustainable over the long term can be achieved. His suggestions are simple, practical, and workable into even the busiest of schedules. They are also applicable and useful for all of us, regardless of our occupation. Doing things such as creating buffer activities between the office and home, making a point to expose ourselves to new ideas by reading widely and voraciously, and consistently taking notes of our thoughts and insights not only help us to be better creators, they help us to be more balanced and well-rounded individuals.

Everyone, whether an ad executive or a stay-at-home mom, can benefit from adding thoughtful structure to their day. The Accidental Creative has helpful advice that is easily employed in order to fashion a creative practice that is purposeful, intentional, and fruitful.

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