Why certainty is creatively impractical

Culled from a Brainpickings post on “How to Make Your Own Luck”:

““You are what you settle for,” Janis Joplin admonished in her final interview. “You are ONLY as much as you settle for.” In Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build an Incredible Career (public library), which comes on the heels of their indispensable guide to mastering the pace of productivity and honing your creative routine, editor Jocelyn Glei and her team at Behance’s 99U pull together another package of practical wisdom from 21 celebrated creative entrepreneurs. Despite the somewhat self-helpy, SEO-skewing title, this compendium of advice is anything but contrived. Rather, it’s a no-nonsense, experience-tested, life-approved cookbook for creative intelligence, exploring everything from harnessing the power of habit to cultivating meaningful relationships that enrich your work to overcoming the fear of failure.”  Maria Popova

“Those who are doggedly attached to the idea they began with may well execute on that idea. And do it well and fast. But along the way, they often miss so many unanticipated possibilities, options, alternatives, and paths that would’ve taken them away from that linear focus on executing on the vision, and sent them back into a place of creative dissidence and uncertainty, but also very likely yielded something orders of magnitude better.

All creators need to be able to live in the shade of the big questions long enough for truly revolutionary ideas and insights to emerge. They need to stay and act in that place relentlessly through the first, most obvious wave of ideas.


Nothing truly innovative, nothing that has advanced art, business, design, or humanity , was ever created in the face of genuine certainty or perfect information. Because the only way to be certain before you begin is if the thing you seek to do has already been done.” Johnathan Fields



About Carter Gillies

I am an active potter and sometime pottery instructor who is fascinated by the philosophical side of making pots, teaching these skills, and issues of the artistic life in general. I seem to have a lot to say on this blog, but I don't insist that I'm right. I'm always trying to figure stuff out, and part of that involves admitting that I am almost always wrong in important ways. If you are up for it, please help me out by steering my thoughts in new and interesting directions. I always appreciate the challenge of learning what other people think.
This entry was posted in Art, Creative industry, Creativity, Imagination, metacognition. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Why certainty is creatively impractical

  1. Frank H says:

    I’m listening to a book “From Eternity to Here” on my long daily commute. i just read your post and was joining your posted remarks to what I’me learning from the book. (I am in the happy circumstance of being a novice potter. I am just into my second hundred pounds of throwing clay.) I see with a beginner’s eyes and all possibilities are open to me. Your shared comments are timely for me. Thank you.

    • Good luck Frank!

      200 pounds into your clay adventure! I remember the awe I felt at the creative possibilities facing me when I was in your position. Do your best to remember these heady days. The world will continue to disclose its wonder if you can nurture that innocent amazement throughout your life.

      Best of luck!

  2. Pingback: Indecision | CARTER GILLIES POTTERY

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