Read Time: 5 minutes

Yo, Saturday Storyteller here. If you’re ready to stop overthinking, and start overcoming, this is the weekly newsletter for you. 

Here’s what I’ve got for you today: 

  • 7 Hallmarks of Creativity
  • 2 Marks of Genius
  • 1 Main Thread

Fiction writers shape reality.

Throughout history, the power of imagination and storytelling has sparked some of the greatest innovations.

From William Gibson’s, Neuromancer, predicting the rise of the internet and virtual reality to Star Trek‘s futuristic communicator inspiring the now-obsolete Motorola RAZR, the boundaries between fiction and fact continue to blur.

But how can you develop your critical thinking skills to unlock new dimensions of creative writing?

By drawing on the “Seven Hallmarks of Creativity and Two Marks of Genius” from Arthur I. Miller’s latest book, The Artist in the Machine, we’ll explore how the critical lens of the human mind can enhance your creativity long before the introduction of artificial intelligence…

Seven Hallmarks of Creativity

1/ The Need for Introspection

“Introspection is the ability to sit by yourself and think.”

— Arthur I. Miller

Introspection is a powerful process that allows you to reflect and look within yourself to raise creative intelligence.

As cited by Arthur I. Miller, Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Luis Alvarez, frequently followed his father’s advice to sit in his reading chair for an entire evening, close his eyes, and think of new problems to solve.

Practitioners of mindfulness and meditation understand the benefits of introspection, which can sharpen and clarify the mind.

Miller emphasizes that incorporating this practice into your daily routine can add to your thinking and problem-solving ledger, leading to personal and professional growth.

Sometimes, you just need to shut the front door to hear yourself think. 💭

2/ Know Your Strengths

“To make discoveries and enhance creativity, we need to focus, which means homing in on our strengths.”

— Arthur I. Miller

In today’s competitive world, getting good at a particular field and focusing your strengths is essential to success.

By dialing in your talents, you can surpass your previous limits and make a bigger impact. But you must engage in self-examination to pinpoint your skills and honor your gifts.

Inside Miller’s book, he references Silicon Valley investor, Peter Thiel, who recommends determining your best talent and focusing solely on it to succeed in the competitive startup world.

A similar approach makes sense for the competitive creative world. 💪

3/ Focus, Persevere, and Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

“The key lesson is to not be afraid of failure.”

— Arthur I. Miller

The pursuit of a problem requires attention and perseverance.

Artists and scientists invest long hours in their work, encountering dead ends and making endless mistakes, however, creatives must learn to dance with the fear of failure.

Miller quotes Danish physicist, Niels Bohr, who once said,

“An expert is a person who has found out by his own painful experience all the mistakes that one can make in a very narrow field.”

At Bell Labs, the renowned research and development facility owned by AT&T from the 1940s to the 1980s, scientists who made mistakes were considered to be making progress as long as they ultimately achieved viable results.

Elon Musk, while developing rockets for his SpaceX program, learned from the failures of past space programs and recommends failing quickly to move on to new attempts.

Alas failure plays a key role in the creative process. 🙃

4/ Collaborate and Compete

“Even so-called lone geniuses such as Einstein and Picasso had think tanks that kept them au courant (up to date) with what was going on in art, literature, philosophy, and science.”

— Arthur I. Miller

Collaborative environments became prevalent in the sciences during the 1920s when groups such as the one formed by German physicist, Max Born, and Niels Bohr began working together.

However, Miller writes about how the most significant breakthroughs were made by individuals sitting alone at their desks, such as Werner Heisenberg’s discovery of quantum mechanics and his uncertainty principle, but collaboration matters.

Also, competition is a crucial catalyst.

Miller cites how Harry Kroto’s team at Sussex University, for example, overcame a stalemate in their search for the structure of Carbon 60, when they heard of a German team that was close to finding the elusive molecule.

Collaboration and competition can serve as critical drivers of innovation, ultimately leading to epic progress. 👥

5/ Beg, Borrow, or Steal Great Ideas

“Bach borrowed heavily from the Italian and French baroque, often weaving their melodies into his works, overshadowing composers such as Corelli and Scarlatti for three centuries. Some contend that the scores of his remarkable Prelude 1 in G Major for the keyboard and the melody for his Christmas Cantata 142, Uns ist ein Kind geboren, were lifted from the German composer Johann Kuhnau.”

— Arthur I. Miller

The act of borrowing and incorporating ideas from others is not new.

Miller details how Johann Bach and Pablo Picasso, among others, took inspiration from their peers and predecessors to create their own masterpieces.

Similarly, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs borrowed and improved upon existing technologies to revolutionize the software industry.

In the creative world, there is no ownership over ideas, so the most thought-provoking and innovative ideas can flourish.

Do not be afraid to borrow, improve upon, and adapt ideas to create something truly original and uncommon. 🥷

6/ Thrive on Ambiguity

“In periods of ambiguity, geniuses thrive while others go quiet.”

— Arthur I. Miller

During periods of turmoil, Miller states geniuses are able to find solutions while others struggle to make progress.

Miller continues with the prior example of Heisenberg who was able to develop the new atomic physics of quantum mechanics in the midst of the demolition of all viable theories of atomic physics in the mid-1920s.

In art and music, groundbreaking works such as Picasso’s cubism and the avant-garde electronic music of Stockhausen, Reich, and Glass caused disruptions and initiated entirely new phases in their respective fields.

Therefore, if your ideas seem out of wack, it may be a sign you’re on the right track. ✅

7/ The Need for Experience and Suffering

“Being ‘out there,’ encountering the world both professionally and personally, is essential to prime the mind to make creative breakthroughs in art, literature, music, and science.”

— Arthur I. Miller

To achieve creative breakthroughs, you must connect with the outside world.

So it’s important to have a well-rounded intellectual background and to read beyond your field.

Miller gives the example of Albert Einstein, who first published his theory of special relativity at the age of 26, and the theory of general reality at the age of 36, but he had already lived a rich life with intense romantic relationships and experiences traveling.

In addition, Miller states suffering is a common thread among prolific thinkers and creators.

Because experiences can inspire you to broaden your emotional bandwidth through literature, music, and philosophy. To create something like never before, you will need to have truly lived, while obsessively focusing on your work.

Look to embrace your trials and tribulations leading you to the promised land. 🙏🏼

Two Marks of Genius

1/ The Essence of Creativity: Finding the Problem

“Problem discovery is the remarkable ability, possessed by only a select few, to identify a specific problem—a problem that will open a bold new avenue of thought and that is usually antithetical to what just about everyone else in the field is working on.”

— Arthur I. Miller

Understanding a problem deeply and unraveling its nuances is a rare talent.

Miller returns to the example of Einstein who realized that scientists were focusing on the wrong problem in physics. Einstein shifted his focus to the nature of space and time, leading to his discoveries.

Picasso wanted to reduce nature to geometrical forms and created cubism.

These leaps of imagination cannot be taught per Miller, but engaging in self-reflection can provide opportunities for inner growth, and trusting in them can lead to life-changing achievements. 🔎

Peter Thiel says,

“The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg will not create a social network. If you’re copying these guys you aren’t learning from them.”

2/ Spotting Connections

“The key lessons here are to be broad rather than narrow in one’s interests; to take on board all sorts of ideas, no matter how unlikely; and to be alert for connections.”

— Arthur I. Miller

Innovation often springs from unexpected connections and insights that challenge conventional thinking.

John Horton Conway, a mathematician, drew inspiration from the Chinese board game, Go, after studying the patterns that emerged as tiles were placed and removed.

Pattern recognition led Conway to create the Game of Life, a board game with a mathematical grid where simple rules produce a wide range of outcomes.

The Game of Life went on to be used as a tool in scientific and mathematical fields such as studying crystal structures and disease modeling, with one of its most notable applications being in astronomy for modeling the evolution of spiral galaxies, allowing researchers to test theories about galaxy formation and evolution. Additionally, it has been used to explore chaos theory, exemplifying the power of simple rules in generating unpredictable behavior.

Explore your many interests, stay open to all sorts of ideas, and search for the missing link that can reveal your groundbreaking discoveries. 🧩

One Central Thread

Intent, Imagination, and Unpredictability

“There are three qualities, three states of mind, that thread through the seven hallmarks of creativity and the two marks of genius: Intent, Imagination, and Unpredictability.”

— Arthur I. Miller

Creativity involves identifying a problem or question, imagining new solutions, and having spontaneous epiphanies.

Good thinkers, creators, and innovators develop and deploy this ability to explore, experiment, express, and evolve.

By threading the seven hallmarks of creativity and two marks of genius, you too, can begin to live your potential and rewrite the rules on your storybook ending. 🧵🪡

That’s it for this Saturday.

If TSS makes you think different, show some love.

See ya next week!

— Dave