More To That

Creativity starts before anything is made 🖼️

Published 5 months ago • 5 min read

Hey friends,

My flagship storytelling course, Thinking In Stories, opened for enrollment on Monday. It’s been many months since the last cohort, so I’m excited to share this experience with you again.

This 4-week program serves two purposes:

(1) Allows you to hit the “refresh” button on your writing practice, and

(2) Shows you how to transform your best ideas into even better stories.

Writing is hard because it’s often devoid of fun. Thinking In Stories will reframe your relationship to the craft by introducing playfulness, while also giving you a practical toolkit you can use to create great stories. Each tool and framework has been designed from the ground-up, and can be applied to any idea imaginable.

The next cohort starts on October 23rd, and enrollment is open for just 6 more days. If you want to round out the year with a renewed commitment to your creative practice, I’d love for you to join us.

Also, tomorrow at 10 AM PT (Thursday), I will be hosting a free workshop called How to Frame Your Story (So People Care). In just one hour, I will show you how you can present your story in a compelling way. Hundreds of people have registered to attend; to join us, hit the link below:

👉 Click here to register for the free workshop.​

All right! Now let’s pivot into the post for today, which is on the fitting topic of creativity.

Now, creativity is a hard thing to narrow down, so where do I even begin? Well, funnily enough, the question of when creativity starts is the very thing I’d like to explore.

Today’s throwback post is a story about a man and his dearest friend. It’s a tale that tests our intuitions about the creative process, and reveals what it means to live an inspired life.

This piece uses the (underrated) technique of worldbuilding, which is something I cover in detail in Thinking In Stories. So if this is something you’re curious to learn, you know where to go.

The rest of this newsletter will be the opening section of this story. Enjoy, and have a great rest of your week!

-Lawrence Yeo

Creativity Starts Before Anything Is Made

This is Stan.

And this is his friend, Creativity.

Stan loves spending time with Creativity, but unfortunately, he spends much of his week at a job where Creativity doesn’t seem to be allowed.

Stan’s favorite part of the day is when he gets to return back home to finally reunite with his friend. And together, they work on making the things that he finds so meaningful and fulfilling.

When Stan returns back to work the next morning, he laments the fact that Creativity is nowhere to be found. He wonders why he’s spending 40+ hours a week at a place that is devoid of the thing he cares about most. He feels that he’s letting valuable time slip through the cracks, and perhaps now is the moment to do something about it.

After reviewing his financial situation and seeing that he has enough, he decides to take a deep breath and make the leap.

He hands in his resignation letter. It’s over. He packs up all his stuff, and gets into his car.

A rush of excitement takes hold. Finally, he can have Creativity all to himself, and they could hang out whenever he’d like.

The next day, Stan wakes up early, and sees Creativity waiting for him at his workspace. They give each other a high-five, and from the beginning, are completely in-sync. Creativity is with Stan throughout the entire day, and wonderful art is made for hours on end.

Stan can’t believe it. If this is what it’s like to have Creativity with him all the time, then everyday would be an opportunity to get so much done.

Since Stan is a disciplined guy, he blocks out a set number of hours each day to sit down in front of his notebook and get to work. The first week of this new schedule runs smoothly – whenever it’s time to make something, Creativity is there and everything flows without question.

Stan manages to keep up this daily routine for a number of weeks, and everything is going well.

But one day, something weird happens.

Stan gets up, arrives at his workspace at his predetermined time, sits down to start, but then it hits him:

He has no clue what the hell he wants to make.

This is strange. Not only is his mind blank, but he also can’t seem to locate his friend either. Usually they would arrive at the same spot, at the same time, everyday.

Did Creativity forget about their appointment? Maybe it’s still sleeping?

Stan tries to go at it alone, but no matter how much he thinks, nothing substantive comes to mind. He decides to call it a day early, and vows to try again the next day.

The next day, he wakes up to a relieving sight. Creativity is sitting in front of his notebook, patiently awaiting Stan’s morning arrival.

Stan sits down, smiles, and the gears start spinning. He’s relieved to know that Creativity didn’t desert him after all.

However, just an hour later, the strange feeling hits him again. All of a sudden, he runs out of steam, and feels like he has nothing more to contribute to this project. He knows it’s not done yet, but he looks up to see that Creativity has left him right in the middle of the session.

It was there just a moment ago, but now it was gone.

He tries again the next day, but gets the same result.

And sadly, it happens the following day as well.

In fact, this goes on for the entire week.

Now Stan is beginning to get worried. He thinks to himself:

What was the point of quitting my job to do this, when I’m not spending 8 hours each day on it? I should have just kept my job and reserved this for the evenings like before. At this rate, I would be spending the same amount of hours on my creative work in both scenarios anyway…

Frustrated, Stan decides to spend the day at a nearby park, bringing a book with him to keep him company. He finds a nice, shaded bench on this beautiful sunny afternoon, sitting atop a small hill that overlooks a familiar city skyline. He’s been to this park many times before, but for some reason, today he feels compelled to take a closer look at his surroundings.

He surveys the landscape, and his eyes are drawn to the blades of grass that cushion the feet of humans and animals alike. The innumerable blades sway back and forth, dancing to the gentle rhythm of a wind that ebbs and flows. He can’t quite understand why this simple sight is so beautiful, yet he feels it viscerally.

Nostalgia then sweeps through him. He’s reminded of all the times his childhood friend would join him at this very park, chasing him through the patches of green that have now turned yellow. Those were simpler times, and even amidst the increasing complexities of life, their friendship continued to grow, and they remain best friends to this day.

Thinking about this, Stan decides to pick up the phone and give him a call. They spend the next hour sharing stories, laughing at childhood memories, and reflecting on how life has changed for them over the last few years.

It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

After a nice day out, Stan returns back home, ready to start unwinding and preparing for a new day. However, when he gets back, look who’s waiting in his workspace, patiently waiting for him to come home:

What the hell?! Why didn’t Creativity show up when he needed it most, and instead it’s showing up when he’s getting ready for bed?

Matter of fact, what’s Creativity’s deal here?! Why has it been perpetually absent over the past few days? Has it been avoiding him the whole time?

These are all interesting questions, but in asking them, Stan is missing something important here:

He is unaware that creating things is just a small part of what Creativity is all about.

Stan believes that Creativity starts and ends with the time they spend working on things with each other. That it lives in the space between the moment he opens his notebook and the time he closes it.

But in reality, that’s only the final stage of Creativity’s entire routine.

More To That

by Lawrence Yeo

Illustrated stories on the human condition.

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