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There's only one thing you need for great creative
And it might be all that's left in a world being eaten by AI
Whether you’re a YouTuber, Substack writer, ad creative or remotely similar to any of these, your success hinges on your ability to produce strong creative. And while there are plenty of individuals creating for a living; iconoclast, memorable work remains rare.
Let’s take writing as an easy (if meta) example. Written words have the ability to move us emotionally as much as any other form of self-expression. The work of someone with a mastery of language such as American non-fiction writer Robert Greene produces a similar (and as powerful) emotional response for me as I experience from music or visual arts. I am certain the same is true to you if you are taking time out of your day to read a publication such as this.
And, just like a musician isn’t going to create something revolutionary every time they sit down to compose, it’s difficult, likely impossible to produce those results consistently with writing. Even with the help of AI or other sophisticated tools. Yet some writers and musicians are able to, at least somewhat regularly, achieve results that are remarkable. The way to achieve this for your own work is actually simple enough to say in one sentence, and perhaps determine if you should move forward at all:
If it doesn’t move you emotionally, don’t make it.
I know that sounds like I’m oversimplifying things, but the truth is you can’t force creating something you’re not genuinely interested in and expect it to move others. It’s just now how any of this works and in these cases, a tool like ChatGPT would certainly be superior. But if it’s something you are interested in and invest emotion behind it, you really can’t fail and your work will show it. We are highly attuned to know when ideas are genuine vs not, it’s something hardwired into us and something I think makes humanity special. This of course goes well beyond the written word.
Don’t love the subject matter, style or project you’re tasked with? You’re in trouble, because someone somewhere else does, and you can’t outcompete them beyond the very short term with marketing/hacks (unsustainable, self-defeating).
Someone who throws their soul into their craft, where it’s existential/life and death important for them, will always produce more interesting, sharable output vs someone just going through the motions.
Great creative is a flow experience: not forced. It’s clear, concise and deliberate. It’s simultaneously playful and high impact. Emotive and thought provoking. Even persuasive. To the reader, it should be an effortless experience they lose themselves in.
The paradoxical thing about this is you never really consider any of these things during the work you end up truly proud of. That’s because your emotions took over and you lost yourself in the experience, your output became a natural extension of thoughts. It was as easy for you to make as it was for others to take in.
There are other great primers for making great creative, and certainly there are times to take a more objective, “best practices” approach. But this is the most basic concept to follow to produce works you are most proud of, and increasingly the critical factor for more of the modern world than we think. While everyone else obsesses over AI alignment, why not use this as an opportunity to reconsider this frequently overlooked human-alignment problem in your own organization or life?