Creativity Needs Parameters

This week I’ve been onboarding two new team members and I gotta say, there’s definitely a learning curve to being a boss.

It’s not an intuitive skillset, but it’s an exciting one to finally learn. I say ‘finally’ because in all honesty, I’ve been putting it off for years.

The first time someone told me to hire a junior writer was in 2016.

Four years ago. Twelve books, dozens of blog posts, and hundreds of emails ago.

Even though hiring someone might have halved my workload or allowed me to take on even more ambitious projects, the only reaction I had was resistance.

Here are just a few of my justifications:

A junior writer won’t do the work like I do it.

My clients are buying my skills and experience, not an employee’s

Creativity doesn’t scale and it certainly can’t be quantified.

The tricky thing with these justifications is that they’re all true. I could get away with them indefinitely if I wanted to.

But really, the biggest resistance was about my own identity.

I like being a writer, and having the flexible schedule of a sole operator.

I like the glamour of my profession, and how people fixate on me when they find out that’s what I do.

I like being the one whose work brings people to tears, or chills, or squeals of delight.

My ego is so happy being a writer, and I didn’t want to give any of that away.

But about a year ago, I was at a Titans Mastermind event with Brian Kurtz, and it came to me in a bolt that my purpose as a writer is not to feel creatively indulged all the time.

It’s not to live a glamorous bohemian lifestyle, or to spend my days neurotically chasing perfection on the page.

My purpose, as a writer, is to be a vessel for the stories that can change a reader’s world.

No vessel has just one function. A vessel can carry heavy loads. It can move at speed and launch into the fray, or it can glide slowly, quietly into a safe harbour. It can be a shelter, a place to play, a transport to transformation.

And a vessel can go anywhere with the right crew.

Turns out that I’m going to have a lot MORE time to write now that I’ve got some extra help (and I have my new business coach, James Schramko, for keeping me on the rails while I get the hang of this).

I thought you really couldn’t teach creativity, that it was innate… but a lot of people are actually pretty creative.

With the right parameters, you can empower people to be creative in a way that meshes perfectly with what you’re trying to do.

You can train a writer to capture voice with a few focused exercises.

You can train a writer to pick up the golden threads of a narrative and tie them together seamlessly.

You can train a writer to stick the landing, bringing any piece to a powerful close.

I know this is true, because amazing writers like Abbey Woodcock, Elizabeth Gilbert and Marcella Allison taught me to do it. You can do anything with the right crew.