Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Creative cross-pollination, or what I’ve learned about writing from unlikely sources

Grace Coddington
In The September Issue (which I highly recommend to any creative person, even if you aren’t into fashion), Vogue Creative Director Grace Coddington looks out the window of her taxi in Paris rather than hunching over a smart phone, as so many business travelers do.

She makes a point to do this everywhere because early in her career a mentor advised her to always look up and around for inspiration because you never knew when it would strike.

I agree wholeheartedly (even though I struggle to keep my iPhone tucked away). Not only does inspiration come from unlikely places, so do lessons about writing and creativity.

For example...

Cooking (or, hell, good eating)
Sweet is made interesting by adding spice, sour, or salt. Think Mexican hot chocolate or a salted caramel or Key Lime pie or, my recent favorite, the Mango Habanero Margarita at Takoba in Austin.


A photojournalist I worked with told me that the biggest difference between professional photographers and regular folks was that the professionals “take a hell of lot more pictures.”

Now, I don’t entirely believe that, but his point resonated with me. Want to get better at your craft? Do it more. Want to make sure you get the perfect shot? Take more shots. Want to make sure you get the perfect headline? Write more headlines.

Hair cuts

It’s much easier to trim than add more.


Simple can be elegant, but there’s a fine line between that and boring. There is an equally fine line between elaborate and overwrought. In all cases, execution matters.

User Interface Design

It takes a lot more work on the back end to make things simple of the front end.

What have you learned about writing from unlikely sources?

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