The Creative Curve: A book review by Bob Morris


“Perritt, Megan” <>

“Mocklow, Courtney” <>


The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea, at the Tight Time
Allen Gannett
Currency/An imprint of the Crown Publishing Group (June 2018)

Here’s “a blueprint for how every one of us can unlock our creative potential”

After rigorous and extensive research, Allen Gannett wrote this book in which he shares what he learned. As he explains, “I learned something surprising and eciting: [begin italics] that the inspiration theory of creativity simply isn’t true [end italics].”

What is? He discovered a science behind what becomes a hit (i.e. breakthrough creativity) “and that today’s neuroscience gives us an unprecedented ability to decode and engineer the necessary moments of ‘inspiration’ to create popular work that your audience can’t get enough of…a pattern that successful creative people leverage to make hits, one that is accessible to almost anyone. It’s intuitive, but it’s also  learnable.”

Gannett calls it “the creative curve,”  the bell-shaped relationship between exposure and likeability. It involves a process governed by four “Laws”: Consumption, Imitation, Creative Communities, and Iterations. He devotes a separate chapter to explaining each and details are best revealed in context. However, no spoiler alert is required when noting that “the best-known creatives [Mozart or Picasso, Elon Musk or J.K. Rowling] follow a consistent pattern of behavior that allows them to create [whatever] hits the sweet spot on the creative curve.”

That is, their use of relentless consumption plants the seeds for moments of sudden inspiration; through imitation they learn the necessary constraints and how to apply the precisely necessary amounts of novelty;  through building communities they refined their skills, increased self-motivation, and enlisted collaborators to help achieve the desired results; finally, “by being aware of timing and engaging in iterations, they took advantage of data and process to improve their work and achieve the ideal point [i.e. appropriate balance] of familiarity and novelty.”

Dave and Tom Kelley agree with Gannett that “the patterns of success can be learned and, with time, mastered [by almost anyone].” In their classic work, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All , they challenge all manner of misconceptions, such as the common refrain “I’m just not creative.” In fact, they suggest, “As brothers who have worked together for thirty years at the forefront of innovation, we have come to see this set of misconceptions as ‘the creativity myth.’ It is a myth that far too many people share. This book is about the opposite of that myth. It is about what we call ‘creative confidence.’ And at its foundation is the belief that we are all …Creative confidence is a way of seeing that potential and your place in the world more clearly, unclouded by anxiety and doubt. We hope you’ll join us on our quest to embrace creative confidence in our lives. Together, we can all make the world a better place.”

Allen Gannett could not possibly agree more.




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