100 of 104 people found the following review helpful
Creativity comes and goes; you can't force it. Todd Henry attempts to show how to enhance your creativity. While there were some interesting points in this book, I was not particularly inspired.
The good points for me:
**Ideas how to maintain a creative rhythm. It's perfectly normal to not be in creative mode all of the time. Recognize the down times and make the most of them.
**The concept of focus. Todd suggests that you group like tasks together so you can maintain rhythm and focus. Try not to constantly check your email while trying to do something else. You end up half concentrating on each task.
**Tips on how to manage your energy. Okay, this is common sense, but it's helpful to have it repeated. I'm most definitely a morning person, so that's when I should be doing my tough tasks that require lots of thinking.
**Suggestion to aside time to just think. This is very hard to do in our overly-scheduled, 24/7 connected world, but it will pay off. Start with just one hour a week.
**Learn how to identify and cut your time sinks. Recognize that surfing the Internet is not productive. Sure it may relax you, but it is a big time sink.
What missed the mark for me:
**The book seemed to ramble. Todd goes from defining creativity and its components, to talking about team work, to giving some concrete steps on how to set up your Big 3, those most important loops in your life.
**I'm still not sure how all the chapters fit together. They seem piecemeal.
This book is best enjoyed if you skim and see if a few of Todd's suggestions resonate with you.
80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2011
As soon as I finished reading this, I bought four more copies for my writer friends. This book will serve creative professionals and dedicated hobbyists of all stripes, from writers, painters, and graphic designers to design engineers and computer programmers.
This book will help you bring a thoughtful structure to your every day creative work. It's work in the best way; Todd teaches you how to examine your life as a whole to make sure that you have the key elements necessary to support your creating over the long term.
So often I find myself exhausted from a long day at work, with little energy left to give to my own personal art. After reading the book I've made some small, intentional changes to my daily habits and I've been excited to find I have so much more left in the tank for my writing and creating sessions. I even find myself waking up early, filled with new ideas. That's in the short term; I'm excited for the long term change to my production.
This book stands on its own (no knowledge of the podcast necessary), but fans of the podcast will especially love this book! It's definitely money well spent and I even find that it is helping me to synthesize the ideas from other creative revolution books like Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind." The book has earned a spot on my desk, not on my bookshelf.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2011
If only I had been armed with this information in college but Oh how grateful I am to have it now!
A few years ago, I stumbled upon Todd Henry and his podcast. Instantly I was drawn in by his accessible manner, as he painted the picture of what creative burn-out looked like..and it was my self portrait. His emphasis on "filling your tank" with artistic input before you even begin expelling your creative output, changed my entire perspective of the process.
This book, How To Be Brilliant At A Moment's Notice is not only the compilation of the Accidental Creative's brilliant, prolific and healthy golden nuggets but reveals to you what's at the core of your blocked and frustrating creative moments. And then helps you create workable resolutions. I am thrilled to say that it exceeded all expectations that I had. It is the essential user's manual for any creative! If your creative outlook was impacted by Steven Pressfield's "The War of Art" then this book will blow you away.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2011
First of all, I love this book.
And now here is "why" of I love this book ....
I think this book is great if you are a creative in the commercial world (ie writer, artist, etc). I don't think it would be as helpful if you have what would be considered traditionally a non-creative job. It's really geared for those trying to avoid burn out and how to maintain the creative "flow" or always being on with some sort of consistency. These are pretty universal problems to most people in these types of jobs AND the book gives some practical everyday advice on how to manage/find creativity when you need to depend on it.
Read the book to see how it applies to you (but only if you are in a creative field.)
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I consider myself a reasonably creative person (I asked my wife the other day and she thought I was, so that settles it!). Some of the creative things I do or have done include: paint and decorate our house, paint small Civil War and Revolutionary War soldiers and create miniature battlefields, teach a Children's Sunday School and fill in for an Adult class, landscaping around our house, enjoy thinking and how to improve areas of my life, etc.
Naturally, I was drawn to Henry's book and wanted to get ideas on how to improve my creativity. The book is divided into 2 main parts:
1. Dynamics of Creativity - working with others, being careful of people and things that hijack creativity.
2. Establishing a Creative Rhythm in Your Life - focus, energy, stimuli, hours, relationships, etc.
Among the many topics covered include:
1. Working with other people can enhance your creativity - of course, I should clarify that working with the RIGHT kind of people can help! Other types of people can be energy and creative draining vampires!
2. Focus - try to stay on one topic for a reasonably prolonged period of time to allow for deep thinking. Some mindless employers expect you to constantly multitask, resulting in short and long-term adverse effects.
3. Stimuli - focus on events, surroundings, etc. that can enhance your productivity. Hint - different people respond to different stimuli.
4. Hours - use the time (morning, afternoon, night) when you are strongest and most likely to think creatively.
5. Energy - get enough rest, eat healthy, and do other things that are good for you and can help enhance your creativity.
I enjoyed reading the book. Most of the content consisted of material I have read before but still need to be reminded of (eat health, get plenty of sleep and rest, take periodic breaks from the project you need creativity on to think more clearly, see how activities relate to each other so you may save time and energy, etc.). Either I already knew the topics or was challenged to think of them with a different perspective and gain new insights.
A minor criticism - I would have liked to have read more in depth about how he went about obtaining a creative insight on something. For example, he mentions that he challenges his fellow team members to get out of the office, take a break, and come back with new insights. They do come back with new insights. I would have liked to have known -
where did they go? (he did mention them going to a museum, bookstore, etc.)
how did where they went related to the project they needed creative insights on?
what was the specific project they were struggling with at the time?
what was the specific insight they got for their project?
Being a reasonably creative person, I like to learn from other peoples' thought processes. Thought at times the book spent a lot of time on concepts and not enough on specific examples.
In fairness to the author, I believe the "Accidental Creative" is more of a book that helps you to prepare to become more creative instead of giving you specific step-by-step examples of how to do so. I suppose that folks more creative than I can figure out for themselves the specific steps.
Still, a good read to challenge and encourage you to prepare yourself to think more creatively when the time comes.
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2011
After being a listener of the Accidental Creative podcast for years, it was great to see Todd finally release a book.
This is an important book worth sharing for a few reasons...
1. it's hits all the strong points from Accidental Creative podcasts - and there are many,
2. it covers a ton of uncharted territory extremely relevant to the modern knowledge worker,
3. it articulates art and creativity in way that almost anyone can digest, bringing it closer to home for engineering minds (like mine) and knowledge workers, and
4. brings all this together with a focus on mental and physical health too - it's like a Four Hour Body for the mind.
A thoroughly recommended, refreshing read.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2011
After listening to the Accidental Creative podcast for years it is great to finally have all the information boiled down into book format. I read through my copy in record time & now use it as a day-to-day reference tool.
The part of the book that would be most helpful to any reader, in my opinion, is Chapter 6 on Energy. Todd talks about Whole-Life Planning. So often in this day & age we compartmentalize our life into buckets such as our day job, life with family & friends, chores, church, volunteer work, etc. Todd talks about the fact that you need to take a macro look at your schedule to understand how to better use your energy. "When you are planning your life, you need to account for every commitment you make in every area. This means that when you are in a busy season at work, you need to be disciplined enough to trim back the number of personal commitments you make." (pg 122)
By using what you learn in Chapter Six and the Checkpoints in Chapter Nine you can begin to achieve a better life balance. And with a better life balance productive creativity is sure to follow.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
First spying the title of "The Accidental Creative", I thought it must be aimed at artists - painters, sculptors, actors, novelists, etc. Although those professions might profit from the book, it really seems to be designed for knowledge workers, people whose jobs involve producing ideas, projects, and deliverables - intellectual property.
All such practitioners face the recurring challenge of coming up with new ideas, following through on them, staying mentally and physically fresh in order to "sharpen the saw" and replenish their creative wellsprings. Todd Henry's book offers a practical blueprint for such knowledge workers to step back and build in processes and systems to maximize their effectiveness and pursue self-regeneration.
I read the "Accidental Creative" with the book in one hand and a yellow highlighter in the other, to mark important passages. By the time I finished, the book looked like it had jaundice. Henry heads a consulting company that provides coaching services and resources for those who face the challenge of generating ideas and seeing then through to completion. Increasingly in our knowledge worker economy, this description applies to more and more people. Henry's tips and suggestions do not come off as preachy. To reinforce his points, he offers real world anecdotes that resonate.
Henry divides the book into two main sections: The Dynamics and Creative Rhythm. After setting the stage for the work environment in which many/most creatives operate, the builds an action plan for managing, growing and harvesting creative ideas in the second major section.
In Part 2, he discusses Focus, Relationships, Energy, Stimuli, and Hours. He adds a chapter on how to best embed best practices into your life to maximize the flow of creative ideas and to avoid burnout. He closes strong, with a chapter titled "Cover Bands Don't Change the World."
If you read only one business book this year, I suggest you make it "The Accidental Creative." It is THE best business book - one of THE best books - I have read in ages. Practical, uplifting, instructive, easy to read.
It is not hyperbole to say that the ideas presented here are game-changers and can be life changing.
I confess that I can't say enough in praise of "The Accidental Creative." It is one of those books that you may want to go back and re-read. As strongly as I endorse it, I realize that your mileage may vary. The book title is somewhat ironic, inasmuch as the book's theme (to me) seems to be that there is very little accidental about generating new and creative ideas. In fact, more will flow if you are intentional about incorporating specific habits and practices into your life. Intentionality is a strong theme running through Henry's chapters.
With that caveat, though, I suggest that if your job or life role involves generating new ideas and acting upon them, reading and heeding "The Accidental Creative" will give you a competitive edge!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2012
I saw this book in the airport and it caught my eye on a glimpse.
Apparently its another how to be productive book that changed the productive word to creative.
The author brings his experience on paper and presents it well. He has several great ideas that I'll try to use.
This book has a lot of in sites seen on other books on this term. If its your first book on the subject than it is worth reading. If you've already read similar topic books than a lot of these ideas are common
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2011
I feel guilty whenever I read inspirational or self-help books. Anything that's purpose is to inspire, get me off my ass or teach me concepts that I can use during my day seem like cheating to me.
I've always thought our personal creative talents never need nudging. Practice sure, but how is someone else going to help me with my unique process?
Never mind that I've read many books and watched many videos on how to play baseball, tennis and run. Never mind that I take those lessons to heart and use the drills to improve myself over time. Never mind that I never thought I should just intuitively KNOW how to do these things.
That's what The Accidental Creative is about. It taught me how to identify, nurture and improve my creative work by paying attention to the process I go through to produce it. Nothing too cheerleadery (writers get to make up words), but real steps I can take today.
I suppose I should say I received this book while working with Todd Henry's Street Team, but I also bought the Kindle version, so I'm not some freebie takin' dude.