Gut Rumbles

June 22, 2004

coaching creativity

Stop and think about the idea of "coaching creativity." Think about it long and hard. Then, just break out in hysterical laughter, roll on the floor and wipe the snot off your nose and the tears from your eyes. That's the most bullshit job I EVER heard of. Sounds like a fucking consultant to me, and I've got no use for ANY of those bastards.

I have a theory about creativity and it comes from long ago, when I was only an egg. Creative people will be creative whether they are "coached" or not. I also do not believe that you can take an uncreative drone and coach him into being creative. It goes against the hard-wiring in the brain.

I read once that the difference between a genius and a lunatic is very, very small. They both see things that other people don't.

Creative people are ALL part lunatic, and I'm not talking about actors here. Actors are the mushy scum on the bottom of the pond of creativity. They don't "create" anything. They are hand-puppets, playing people that they aren't, speaking lines written by someone else and as close to a shadow-person as I can imagine. I don't like actors, even though I would like to try my hand at that craft some day. I can be as phoney as a lot of them I see on the screen.

I've watched a talented sculptor work. She took a piece of rock and carved it into a statue. I was amazed by the process. She didn't draw lines or diagrams to figure out what to do. She didn't need any coaching. She saw the end result in her mind before she started and she carved it perfectly from stone. THAT'S what I call creativity.

I don't like it when people call actors or musicians "artists." They are SELDOM artists. They practice a craft, and a lot of them aren't really good at THAT. Mozart was an artist. Barry Manilow is not. Robert Frost was an artist. Maya Angelo is not. Period. I will brook no discussion on the matter, because people who can't tell the difference aren't worth talking to.

Nobody "coaches" creativity. A teacher or a mentor can channel creative energies down the right path, refine the skills with constructive critcism and encourage a creative person to pursue the talent, but NOBODY can make a silk purse from a sow's ear.

A creative person will be creative, with or without a coach. A witless drone will remain uncreative, no matter how many coaches are swarming around trying to find something that isn't there. "Creativity Coach," my ass.

There ain't no such thing.


Whata are the old sayings "stupid is as stupid does" or "you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear"

Posted by: Michele on June 22, 2004 11:26 AM

Frost. Yeah, HE needed someone to coach him to write "Mending Wall" Yep. Suuuure.

I think you're right; a "creativity coach" is the kid that tells you to lie to your mom about who broke the picture window.

Posted by: og on June 22, 2004 11:27 AM

Once stopped to chat with a guy who carved, painted & sold marvelous wooden duck decoys. A true artisan/craftsman. Asked him how he did it. He replied, "I just carve away everything that's not a duck."

It's an old joke, to be sure. But I kept thinking about it later. Where I saw a block of wood, he saw a duck. And he likely saw them before anyone "coached" him....

Posted by: CAULI4NYUN on June 22, 2004 11:58 AM

I'll be damned if you didn't hit the nail square on the head with your observation that actors and musicians are not artists. It drives me nuts to see that label on these peole when they do interviews and such. Why not call them what they are: actros, musicians, singers, poets, writers, etc. It does not imply that they are less creative (remove actors and many singers), but lets call them what they are. I remember once watching the end of a celeberity basketball game in which Michael Jordan played. One of the rock stars was giving an interview and the commentator asked how it felt to play with Jordan and this idiot gushed how it was such and honor to play with Michael Jordan because of his artistic skills. I thought my ass, he's a damn basketball player, granted the greatest ever, but come on, an artist. Me thinks not!

Posted by: M2 on June 22, 2004 12:18 PM

Would a star athlete have made the same progress if they didn't have a coach? If corporate executives can use executive coaching - why can't those same principles apply to the arts?

Strange that you divorce craft/technique from creativity - you see them as separate things. I see technique as what you do when your intuition isn't plugged in - it's what gets you through days when you're not 'inspired'. Sort of like how Stephen King can churn out books that you can't stop reading - because he has perfect the technique of teasing the reader to the next chapter - but often he doesn't seem as inspired as he has in the past - like how Dreamcatcher merely mashed together previous works into a hardly cohesive whole.

Looks like you also separate actual creation from performance - like in you Mozart/Barry Manilow analogy. Is performance more akin to playback for you - that it isn't connected to a creative impulse but is merely filling in the blanks provided by a score, script or recording?

I would bet that your sculptor doesn't work in a vaccuum and may be connected with other artists that support, encourage and commisserate with - making art by yourself is terribly lonely - and ultimately unsatisfying. My parents are handweavers (very 'crafty' versus 'artsy') and have found support with a group of 20 other weavers, potters, carpenters and painters through the years. When I'm working with clients I don't purport to 'make them creative' - they already are (or they aren't) - I help them identify and dissolve what their creative blocks are. Not sure what that should be called if not coach - maybe consultant?

Posted by: Andy on June 22, 2004 12:42 PM

I've never seen a corporate executive that wasn't 90% full of shit, thanks in large part to corporate "coaching." And if you can't tell any difference between Mozart and Barry Manilow, you have the creative instincts of a sand crab.

Posted by: Acidman on June 22, 2004 02:11 PM

I especially agree with you in regards to poetry. The only poetry worthy of the name is written by songwriters...that's where the money is. Buffett, Simon, and even Denver wrote better poetry than is passed off as such today. McCartney, when asked how he and Lennon sat down and wrote a song responded, "First we sit down. Then we write a song."

How could you possibly coach that?

Posted by: Mike on June 22, 2004 02:21 PM

Dissolve creative blocks? Is that something like pouring draino down the drain to dissolve the hair clumps? Sounds like a feel good about yourself racket. At least he is half ass earning money and not robbing people with a gun, and if they are dumb enough to hire him, more power to him.

Posted by: James Old Guy on June 22, 2004 02:27 PM

First we sit down. Then we write a song."

Some people can't even get down to that point. Does that make them weak or stupid or unworthy? Have you never experienced writer's block? Have you never been to a writing workshop or an acting class or a pottery class or anything where the experience was more about what your personal take on your art is than learning a set technique?

that's where the money is

Is only popularly accepted art worth anything?

Mozart and Barry Manilow,

That's what I was getting at - they are vastly different - the division for you seems to hinge on are they creating art for the ages - something built to last - or just merely entertaining people. Don't get me wrong - I'm all about Rachmaninoff, Beethoven and Chopin. Barry is a minor ripple compared to the true masters of music. You can tell when you listen to Mozart's Requiem or Chopin's Nocturnes versus 'her name was Lola, she was a showgirl.'

I'm trying to understand why a person having a coach for a creative product /process is such a threatening idea.

Posted by: Andy on June 22, 2004 03:51 PM

ok, here's a the military, after they started with the social engineering of folks (PC what a concept, they had to come up with a program to "help" cultivate people for advancement. Each branch of the service has various names for it, but in the Navy/Marines it was called LMET (Leadership/Management Enlisted Training). Now you *can* train someone to be a good manager...but you is either a leader or you aint. That is something that you cannot produce cookie cutter fashion. And that seems to be what creative coaching sounds like. Yes there are those who have experienced writers block (been there done that) most folk will find ways to either work around it or place that project on the back burner (if it is possible). As for me I just found a new subject as the deadline was fast approaching. I didn't have a coach, I did have and editor/boss who expected me to produce.

Posted by: Guy S. on June 22, 2004 05:01 PM

Manilow ???

How can you deny the sublime nature of:
"You deserve a break today, so get up and get away to McDonalds"
(both words and musik)

Yeh its sick.

Posted by: The Thomas on June 22, 2004 05:31 PM

Robert Frost was an artist. Maya Angelo is not.

Just 'cause you don't like her art doesn't mean she's not an artist. I will brook no discussion on this matter!

Posted by: RoguePlanet on June 22, 2004 05:32 PM

Now you *can* train someone to be a good manager...but you is either a leader or you aint.

I've always wondered about that. I worked in an HR company (insurance) and the difference between developing good managers into better managers versus developing leaders is apt. Sometimes it seemed managers are really efficient and do their job but they can't inspire people for shit.

Posted by: Andy on June 22, 2004 05:54 PM

Is only popularly accepted art worth anything?

Art is only good if it evokes emotion in the receiver. Just calling something art doesn't make it so. Those who are good at something will gravitate to where they can earn a living at it. Those who aren't beg the government to buy it.

Posted by: Mike on June 22, 2004 06:15 PM

OT: Acidman, how come your comments page always looks all wrinkled?

Posted by: RoguePlanet on June 22, 2004 06:22 PM

Rob posted:

A creative person will be creative, with or without a coach. A witless drone will remain uncreative, no matter how many coaches are swarming around trying to find something that isn't there. "Creativity Coach," my ass.

There ain't no such thing.

I hate to differ with you here Rob, but yes, there is such a thing.

They're called Kindergarten Teachers.

Sloop New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Posted by: Jim on June 22, 2004 06:22 PM

Maya Angelo is what you get when you pay a poet by the word.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis on June 22, 2004 07:05 PM

"When I was only an egg."

I was dealing with petty, Springer-esque crap from various people today, repressing my urges to seek terrible and utter destruction of people for petty crimes against my sanity, when I pondered a time when I would have perpetrated said destruction, and the first sentence that popped into my mind was:

"I am only an egg."

And why is your comment page always fubar?

May you never thirst

Posted by: KoalaBear on June 23, 2004 12:19 AM

I tried to practise myself into creativity.

I'm not more creative, am now only more of a lunatic.

Posted by: DaveJ on June 23, 2004 01:26 AM

I'm trying to understand why a person having a coach for a creative product /process is such a threatening idea.

Next he will ask if you are sexually repressed!
You must be coachaphobic, you right wing, knucle-dragging, racist!

If you think you need a creativity coach, I have some snake oil that will render your schlong three feet long!

Posted by: wesley J. on June 23, 2004 03:08 AM


Posted by: null on August 29, 2004 05:02 PM

Take heart amid the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting
enough cheese
-- National Lampoon, Deteriorata
Credit Report

Posted by: Credit Report on November 21, 2004 02:44 AM

I recently discovered that a former friend of mine, a VERY former friend of mine has become a creative coach.

He's never created anything except a few jingles, never finished a song and never sacrificed his nice safe existence as a computer programmer to be a real artist, he is the most pretentious person you could ever have the mis-fortune to know.

Read this self-applauding panegyric and see if you'd like to rent a holiday cottage in his upper colon. The most creative thing he seems to have done in the last ten years is to go bald.

There is a darker side to this banter of mine. Ten years ago I must have been suffering from very low esteem, because I actually used to hang out with this w*nker, somebody who would rubbish a great artist like John Steinbeck because he and 'somebody in the street' had never heard or read him before.

Nobody was allowed to be 'good at', his explanation for the unique talent that was Jimi Hendrix was that he practised a lot and that if one paracticed then one would sound just like him, easy!

These so-called coaches can be just about anybody, you don't need any qualifications or experience, just an unshaking ego and a big mouth. What galls me about this phillistine is that he never fails to mention money in the validation of creative worth.

The really frightening part is the way he would rubbish and undermine me and I was stupid enough to put up with it for just over two years of nearly the decade that I knew him. The whole 'coach' pose is a blind for power and feeling superior to the people one is 'helping'.

Thanks for approving this post if you can, if you feel you must take out the link then do so, but there is no other way of warning people about unbalanced people getting their kicks by pretending to be a therapist.

Posted by: Giles on July 15, 2008 09:29 PM
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