Weekender: Charlie Gillingham on the Essence of Creativity

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Welcome to another edition of leadersayswhat’s the Weekender, a simplified algorithm of thought to start your weekend on the right track. Why simplified? Because it’s the weekend!

When searching for innovative ideas, how much time do you waste in the pursuit of divine inspiration? If you are eating up valuable time (or reading this in an attempt to spark inventiveness, i.e. procrastinate), consider the wise words of Charlie Gillingham.

Charlie Gillingham is the keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist for the rock band, the Counting Crows. He also studied artificial intelligence (AI) at University of California, Berkeley and worked as a software engineer in the field of AI before becoming a full-time musician. In a recent interview, Gillingham was asked about the prospects of AI being used in composing.

People would like to believe that there’s a magical essence that makes a human being a human being and makes it different than all other things on earth. The truth is much, much more complicated. People point to creativity as something that’s somehow magical, somehow metaphysical, you know, comes from some other plane. But the essence of creativity is making choices, making guesses. These are things that machines are so good at… Anyway, people tend to think creativity’s some kind of a high bar, but it’s actually not. It’s one of many high bars.

I hope Gillingham’s comment does not minimize your romantic vision of an artist. When I read it, I was comforted with the idea that creativity is making choices. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities, or worse, the blank page. By simplifying our understanding of creativity, we can demystify the process, usurp the frustration of writer’s block, and break down the problem into alternative solutions.

So go make some choices.

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