The Second Pillar of a Great Writer: Creativity

Welcome back to my unbelievably cliché and predictable (am I always this self-aware, even in my YouTube? nah) Four Pillars of a great writer, the baseline and standard for which every single writer without exception has followed since the dawn of life on earth. There is, of course, no other way to do things except my way, and every opinion or method other than my own must be false. (sarcasm alert)

Creativity: often championed as the pinnacle of a writer’s virtues. While these four pillars don’t really go in any particular order, I wouldn’t necessarily place creativity at the top: Ingenuity, the third pillar, is one I hold in higher regard. After all, everyone’s creative in their own way, but that doesn’t equate to actual ability.

Think of a fresh-faced young reporter: he’s full of youthful skill and talent, and with that go-getter attitude he could squeeze a story out of a lemon. But on the other side, he’s inexperienced and prone to blunders. His ability is severely limited by the fact that he’s been in the job for six months, whereas other reporters with five or more years of experience have a dedicated edge on him.

To be clear: creativity is no match for ingenuity. But to be clear on that front as well: ingenuity cannot exist without creativity. Nothing new can be created if nothing new is envisioned. I don’t want to underplay the value of any of these virtues, but just know that creativity alone will not save you.

But what even is creativity? I like to say that it’s vision mixed with optimism. Why optimism, you ask? Because creativity cannot be forced: ingenuity can, but creativity is more like a lightning rod, waiting for inspiration to strike. Ingenuity is far more like building with legos: but the way you get those legos is creativity.

Creativity is what happens when you allow your mind to trespass the limits of the possible: to enter the realm of limitless impossibility. It’s what happens when you give zero a value other than nothing. It’s what happens when you ask questions like “what if I could fly?” and “what if there was a magical sword made of stars?”

Creativity is the engine: ingenuity is the rest of the car. One’s useless without the other. But the main difference between the two is that ingenuity, given enough creativity, can be replicated with relative consistency. Creativity, properly understood, is the ability to be open to inspiration. The more creative you are, the more you will be able to recognize inspiration when you see it.

But that, of course, requires vision. Vision is the point of inspiration, and if there’s no why, there’s no who, what, where, or how. The optimism comes from viewing your work in a positive light, acknowledging its shortcomings yet vowing to do better in the future. Nothing kills creativity faster than negativity.

And I don’t mean negativity in the sense that “this is bad” but in the sense that “this is hopeless” or “there’s no way I can get better”. Optimism, hopefully in the boundless kind, is what we’re looking for. Anything else actually hurts your creativity, and by extension, your ingenuity–which we’ll discuss tomorrow.

That’s all.


Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Plus, I mean, it wouldn’t hurt to check out the Resources tab. It’s full of super helpful material and I promise it will help you out. Until then, writers!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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