Creativity Can’t Be Hacked

You can’t optimize your way out of the messy parts of creativity

Anna Codrea-Rado
Forge
Published in
5 min readAug 21, 2019

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Credit: BSIP/Getty Images

II know a writer and filmmaker who told me he used to hang upside down — sometimes from one of those pullup bars you can attach to a doorway, sometimes off the side of the couch — in the hope that the rush of blood flowing into his head would clear his creative blocks.

Instead, he’d get a headache and end up feeling grumpy.

Like many knowledge workers desperate to crank the ideas tap, he had been led to believe that creativity should be a series of eureka moments, and he was frustrated that he couldn’t generate them on command. When he found himself stuck, he figured he just had to prise loose a single brilliant idea and he’d be back on track.

Creating is hard, frustrating, sometimes even depressing or boring.

Creativity hacks like that headache-inducing one proliferate on Reddit threads and YouTube videos. Some come with a steep price tag. From “smart pills” to online courses offering a “blueprint for creative success” to $5,000 multiday flow-state retreats, creativity is big business.

I get it. I’ve been there. Creating is hard, frustrating, sometimes even depressing or boring. Those moments of struggling to focus…

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Anna Codrea-Rado
Forge
Writer for

Journalist and podcaster covering business, culture & tech for the NYT, Guardian, FT, Business Insider, Wired etc.