[Book Rec] Creative Quest by Questlove (a.k.a. my new spirit guide)

Posted November 3, 2018 in Findings, Inspiration


Creativity has been a big part of my identity for all of my life but, since college, it was hard to justify creative work that didn’t have direct business impacts. Now that I have a job though, two things in particular are different:

  1. Work-work is contained to a specific space and time,
  2. Sharing what I do no longer has the underlying goal of resulting in freelance work (read: money).

This is very exciting! I’ve been wanting to re-connect with my artist self for a while, and now is the time! That side of me that has been contained to journals and sketchbooks since 2011. Now, I’m on a mission to figure out how to get that contents into a medium that is understandable, easily shared, and that fits in well-enough with my public persona.

That said, Creative Quest, could not have come at a better time. It’s a holistic guidebook to being creative by Questlove, the drummer from The Roots and my new spirit guide (sorry, Kyle). Questlove is not only a fucking bad ass in every sense of the word, he’s an amazing writer! It’s written in a prescriptive way like a lot of books in this category are – it’s more like him sharing what he’s figured out…which is a lot. I just love it.

The illustrated cover of Creative Quest on an orange background

So, this post started off as a standard “Read this book, it’s awesome” post, and quickly turned into not one, but two different posts…perhaps a testimony to the awesomeness of the book! Those have been moved to Purgatory (a.k.a. notlaura.com’s Drafts), so in the mean time, here are some tangible excerpts I’ve curated from Creative Quest – these are mostly for my own reference, but maybe yours, too:

Carve out the negative space around your idea. If you know you are about to paint a portrait, make a list of all the things you don’t want it to be.

If you have pulled all your influences inside, and you output them appropriately at the right moments or in interesting new permutations, maybe you are engaging in a highly creative act.

If you’re a writer, imagine the blurbs that will be on the paperback. If you’re a painter, imagine what people will say when they’re standing in front of your canvas.[ … ] Imagining what’s ahead in the process is a way of getting rid of that plastic flash, of melting off what’s unnecessary.

With the help of the online world, the brain is more a hunter-gatherer and less a farmer.

…how important parody is as a creative exercise.

Parallel thinking is real, but so is the sinking feeling of seeing your idea paralleled somewhere else.

Now, in the twenty-first century, creative life also includes some management of other people’s creativity and the overlap between yours and theirs.[ … ] You can be an artist, but you also have to be a curator.

You have to throw things away so that there is some value implied by the act of keeping other things. [ … ] The Art of The Pick, the talent of knowing which parts of the world to filter out.

… and I still have about 100 pages left, so there are more to come! I’m definitely adding somethingtofoodabout and Mo Meta Blues to my reading list.

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