Every so often I read I book that I end up recommending to everyone I encounter, regardless of state of life, occupation, or literary interests. This spring, thanks to my husband, I came across Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant, which falls swiftly into this category.
I was first intrigued by Grant’s introductory TED talk, which inspired a piece I wrote for Verily on the merits of moderate procrastination. The book arrived from the library the day my piece was due. I was bummed not to have a chance to use it for the article, but once I began to dig in, I realized what I was learning was useful beyond a single article.
Grant argues that unconventional thought is not something you either have or don’t have. Rather, it’s something to which you can cultivate openness—once you discount common opinion on how brilliant minds and creative geniuses function.
Here’s why Originals appeals to writers (and humans in general).
- Moderate procrastination, as I mentioned above, is a tool, not a vice. Our first solution to a problem will usually be the most conventional. When we allow ourselves more time to consider the issue, the other experiences we encounter in the meantime can suggest connections we otherwise wouldn’t have made. Thus, a more creative final product. This is not license to wait until the last minute. Not having enough time to put a good idea into action renders it useless.
- Good ideas do not happen in a vacuum. Innovations that have changed culture are typically among heaps and heaps of failed ideas. Often the ones that take off are not what the creator expected to succeed. Basically, we can’t put all our eggs in one creative basket. Fear of failure can prevent the creation of what could be the next big thing. Translation for writers? Write, write, write. Submit, submit, submit.
- The writing is compelling. Research is used to present a focused narrative in a unique and engaging voice. If you normally write fiction, stretch your muscles with this. Broadening the scope of what you take in will deepen the resonance of what you produce.
- Grant proves that the best feedback you will get is from fellow creators. I’ve said it many times before, but a quality critique group is key to growing as a writer. You need to approach the craft from all sides—reading, writing, editing, discussing—to make progress. Accountability and encouragement don’t hurt the process, either.
I could go on, but this is a blog post, not a full-length manuscript. I recommend this book whole-heartedly! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.