The Laws of Creativity: Book Review
Unlocking Your Originality and Awakening Your Creative Genius
Creativity is a critical part of our jobs and our lives. Yet it is often misunderstood. It is easy to feel like creativity is only meant for certain people. You are “creative” or you aren’t. It is easy to feel like creativity is only meant for certain types of work as well. Things like art or design. It is also easy to feel like creativity is too abstract of a concept to fully define or harness.
But none of those things are true. Creativity is something all of us possess and can access. In fact, it is critical for everyone, not just those we may think of as “creatives”. Creativity is also important for all types of work, not just art or design. Whether it is operations or product management or engineering or anything else, creativity is at the heart of what we do. And creativity doesn’t have to be an abstract idea. It can be a repeatable process that we harness to do our best work.
So what is creativity?
Creativity is about the practice of ideas. More specifically, combining unrelated and abstract ideas in new ways. And it is so important. Not just because we need to solve problems, but because those who apply creative thinking get paid more and are nearly 300% happier at work among many other reasons.
With all that in mind, I was excited recently to pick up the new book by founder Joey Cofone, The Laws of Creativity. In this book, he identifies 39 laws of creativity and discusses how each law applies to different scenarios in our lives and how we can harness these laws and ideas to recognize creativity and become more creative.
Let’s dive in.
Joey and I had the opportunity to discuss this book a few weeks ago on a podcast episode over at Product by Design:
He divides the book into three main sections:
The first part of the book focuses on the set of laws that provide the mindset and foundation for creative endeavors. If you listen to the podcast, you’ll know that this is probably my favorite part. That should probably come as no surprise in a newsletter called “Product Thinking”. Creating the right mindsets is critical for everything we do. It is often the most difficult part as well, which is why I think this section spoke to me so much.
The middle part of the book discusses the core process for creative acts. It is arranged roughly in order of how you might approach a task professionally or personally—asking questions, defining problems, prioritizing, creating, publishing imperfectly, iterating, etc. For those of us creating products on a regular basis, all of this will feel very familiar.
Finally, the book ends with laws that discuss how to take creativity to the next level. From creating habits to adapting to change to practicing intentionally. All of these develop our creative muscles and abilities.
I would love to talk about many of the laws and stories in the book, but I’ll limit this to one or two laws from each section of the book. If you want more, I’d definitely encourage you to grab a copy and read them all.
As I mentioned before, I was drawn into the first section on mindset. I particularly liked law 2—The Law of Disruption.
The Law of Disruption states that “you have the right to challenge, question, and improve upon the ideas that are handed to you.” Ideas come from somewhere, and eventually will be replaced. You don’t have to accept anything that is handed to you. And you shouldn’t. You should actively challenge and question assumptions.
Sometimes when we challenge ideas it leads to new places, even breakthroughs. We may create something that has never been done before because no one has dared to question. Other time it may only confirm what has stood the test of time. Some things work for a reason.
Either way, we learn from disrupting and challenging.
Along the same line as The Law of Disruption, The Law of Curiosity states that “the only way to know what is not known is by asking. Questions are journeys: the ones worth going on hold unknown destinations”.
Curiosity is one of the most important virtues. One of the best ways to learn is by asking many questions, embracing curiosity, and exploring the unknown. We shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions or not know.
Some of the best examples of this law come from children. Kids aren’t afraid to ask lots of questions about anything. Everything is new to them and nothing is off limits until we, as adults, start to put limits on them. Which is a shame.
Rather than limit curiosity, we should embrace the mindset of children and explore anything and everything. Some questions we can find answers to, like “what is the fastest insect?” Other questions may not have an answer, like “what is happiness?” We can and should explore all types of questions and see where they lead.
Sometimes a question is all you need. It’s an impetus to explore for exploration’s sake…Curiosity is the desire for knowledge without a reason.
Finally, and especially since we just got back from a trip to Italy, I’ll call out The Law of Adventure. This law states that we should “routinely venture into the unknown so that your pool of inspiration never grows stagnant. New ideas come from new experiences.”
It is easy to get settled into a routine and only do things that are comfortable or known. But to increase our creativity, we have to venture into the unknown.
This can be as simple as trying new things in our daily lives. From learning how to bake bread to trying a new coffee place. Or it can be something much larger, like traveling to foreign countries and trying to learn foreign languages.
Both small and large things expand our understanding of the world and break us out of the day-to-day. They let us step into the unknown and fill our pool of inspiration for better creativity.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Laws of Creativity. It was an excellent read that felt like it went much faster than its 400+ pages would warrant. Each chapter was filled with fascinating stories taken from a variety of industries and genres and perspectives, which made the book even more interesting. I wish I could have written about almost every law, but that would defeat the purpose of a quick overview and review of the book.
If you’re looking for a book that not only defines creativity but helps you apply the tools you need to be more creative, this is it. Whether you’re in technology or any other field, you’ll find useful stories and practices to help you be more creative in your work and in your life.