In the wake of Robin Williams's untimely passing this week, a January 2014 Apple iPad Air ad that was among the actor's final projects has gone viral. The voiceover comes from a famous monologue from the 1989 film Dead Poets Society:
"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race, and the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering—these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love—these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman,
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring, Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill'd with the foolish… What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
"'That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.'—What will your verse be?"
A creative can leave a powerful legacy, but to contribute his or her best verse, one needs to get into a space to tap into the creative genius and produce truly amazing work. Unfortunately, the creative's life often gets overrun with burning fires and chaos that quell the muse from whispering in the stillness.
So how do you open up the channel and clear space to truly create? This is where creative project management becomes an absolutely essential (but oft ignored) part of the creative process.
First, tackle left-brained organization with structure. While creatives often argue that structure kills creativity, the opposite is true. The right type and amount of structure will manage the demands of daily life more efficiently and effectively. This gives back more precious time and energy that you can channel into creating and innovating.
Second, capture the elusive creative genius when it strikes. If you haven't seen Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert's 2009 TED talk, Your Elusive Creative Genius, you should! Gilbert speaks eloquently of the creative process and how it takes a lot of consistent work to tap into artistic forces beyond the individual artist—and to reframe the idea as being a partner with creative forces instead of the artist being the genius. Most creatives have to work like mules with a consistent determination, but enough blood, sweat, and tears will lead to brushes with that elusive genius from time to time, and those brushes are priceless.
Finally, dare to be vulnerable. Artists have to be willing to really open up with courage, compassion, and connection to create works that really resonate with their audiences—imperfect and uncertain as the results may be. Getting comfortable with taking risks and daring to innovate requires vulnerability, "allow[ing] ourselves to be seen—really seen," said Dr. Brene Brown in her landmark 2010 TED Talk on vulnerability. As we let ourselves be seen deeply and authentically, we're able to bring forth the unique works that only we can offer the world, thereby contributing a verse that is truly ours to the "powerful play" of which Whitman speaks and leaving a powerful legacy that inspires others to do likewise.
Creative project management facilitates this transparency by keeping track of who's doing what and making that information visible to everyone. If someone is behind on their work, the team knows about it and can jump into help, because of the vigilance of creative project management. This might not be the kind of vulnerability that artists promote, but it is absolutely essential to allowing them to keep creating.
About the Author
Raechel is an award-winning content marketer who has particular expertise in managing B2B content marketing projects and campaigns, developing content strategies, and marrying content with design. She’s a Certified Scrum Master and a Marketing Workflow Expert who’s passionate about the Agile Marketing methodology. When she’s not working, Raechel spends her time with her husband, at the beach, or pretending like she’s going for a run.Follow on Twitter More Content by Raechel Duplain