The Saturday Creativity Quote — the power of collaboration

The Barn, pastel on garnet paper, by the author

Writing, like a lot of other creative work, is often described as a solo activity. But there’s a strong case to be made for collaboration, as Joshua Wolf Shenk contends in the book Powers of Two: How Relationships Drive Creativity (2014; the original hardcover was titled Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs). Shenk looks at artists and scientists working together — Lennon and McCartney, Marie and Pierre Curie — but also at artist and inspiration — Vincent and Theo Van Gogh — and scientists who worked and reworked their ideas in conversations with spouses, co-workers, even rivals, typically uncredited.

“So much of the creative exchange gets hidden. It happens offstage, and isn’t a part of history. Sometimes that’s due to prejudice, or ignorance, and sometimes it’s because, if things go well, you just don’t hear about the second person,” Shenk said in an interview in Vox.

For writers, think of the brainstorming sessions with a writing pal, email exchanges with an editor, even conversations with your S.O. about how to kill a character or how one character might behave in a particular situation.

Then take those ideas, spurred by an exchange, to your writing room and write them!

3 thoughts on “The Saturday Creativity Quote — the power of collaboration

  1. Excellent advice. I’ve been trying to work out a collaborative effort with a couple of potters in our area. I’d like to weave pieces to go with their pottery, but so far, I haven’t had any solid response. Maybe they’re doing too well to be concerned with someone else’s artistic efforts.

    Love the barn, btw. One of my planned projects is a coffee table book of the barns of the Flathead Valley. Lots of lovely ones between Bigfork and Creston, for example.

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