Industrial Creativity Vs Organic Creativity

Today I have been thinking about the differences between what I’m calling ‘industrial creativity’ and ‘organic creativity’.

If your creativity pays your way in the world — as it does for many writers, artists and musicians — that’s the industrial kind.

You deploy it in a systematic way, following processes you’ve established to produce a high enough volume of work to keep yourself fed, sheltered and in an acceptable collection of shoes.

It’s the type of creativity that you can turn on like a switch, day in and day out. Most of the time there’s a niche you’ve carved out for yourself, in which you are far more competent and productive than just about anyone else.

For me, this is ghostwriting the life stories of entrepreneurs. For my friend Georgia, it’s painting massive urban murals. For Agne, it’s cooking food that stays in your senses for weeks after you eat it.

There’s a huge amount of satisfaction to be had from your industrial creativity.

This approach builds a body of work very quickly, and can establish you as a leader in your field.

And it’s really the ultimate magic trick, something out of nothing — dreaming up an idea in your mind, turning it into something real in the world, and being able to live on the proceeds.

Of course, anything industrial has something of the paradox to it: economies of scale and a general increase in quality can be offset by reduced variety and the threat of monopolisation.

Organic creativity, on the other hand, won’t put food on the table, but it will feed you all the same.

Maybe it’s writing stuff that you write for the sheer pleasure of doing it, no deadlines or word counts attached.

Maybe it’s experimenting with Grandma’s recipes, and figuring out how to add your own twist to her classics.

It could be taking drawing classes on Instagram, or coming up with new lyrics to old songs.

Organic creativity is the fun, curious, playful stuff you do just to amuse yourself, to feel interesting and to keep growing.

And just as the industrial has its paradox, so does the organic. It’s fun and energising, and can tip over into being a procrastination, a distracting indulgence.

There’s room for both, and it’s a practice, of course, to strike a balance. But this is where fulfilment and mastery live. I think there’s more to come on this, but in the meantime I hope this helps you on the road to both.