Creativity as a learned skill

Ira Glass’s most distinguishing characteristic is probably his nasal, almost prepubescent voice, which is an aural signature for the radio show This American Life. And every week, or sometimes every day, I tune in to hear his casual, nuanced form of storytelling through podcasts on my iPhone (what a geek!)

He’s a world-class storyteller — but this was a skill he learned. He describes here having perfected the art of radio narrative, and listening to him talk about how the craft of creation takes place over long periods of trial and error, really got me thinking.

It inspired me to post my first youtube clip. I admit, it’s lame, but it was 2am, I was sleepless, and bored, somewhat dazed — and that’s how creativity usually comes, right?

Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hour, or 10-year rule, which seems to be the general amount of time it takes for a talented person to become a master at a specific craft — regardless of how prodigal they might seem. His “Outlier’s” book tries to explain success, but what it really applies to is creativity — it’s an art that can be mastered, and it doesn’t matter if you’re creative at writing music or art directing advertising. It’s all the same.

I’d argue there’s even creativity to some who do the most menial kinds of work. Can a janitor be creative? Can a plumber? Is there a difference between the creative approach of cultural synthesis and brainstorming that happens at the place where I work, Modernsita!, and the mastery of an vocation?