Genius vs Scenius: rediscovering the creative process

The genius vs scenius dichotomy has profoundly changed the way I think of creative process. I first heard about it in Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work!

In this book, Kleon decodes one of the most common myths about creativity: the existence of a “genius”; someone who is extremely talented person and is able to create anything from scratch and without any influence. Someone who has a direct connection to the muse or some sort of divine entity.

This is impossible.

Creating something without influence is unrealistic. Talent is the result of practice, of betting on long-term goals and of compounding. Inspiration has nothing to do with muses or divinity. It comes from intentional discipline.

There is no genius in the formula to success. That’s where “scenius” comes into play, proposing a more integrative approach.

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Intentional discipline: the good and the ugly

Everything you want to accomplish in life requires intentional discipline. If you want to improve your nutrition, you need discipline; if you want to be in better shape, your discipline will get you there; if you want to write a book, ideas will flow and you’ll get the job done as long as you show up and rely on discipline more than motivation.

This buzzing concept encompasses good habits, results, self-realization, self-cultivation and much more. It all sounds great. However, paying a price is part of the deal, and this is where disenchantment takes place. This is the part that makes any individual struggle.

In any creative endeavour, intentional discipline is an essential component. On the one hand, you’ll find joy and satisfaction in the work you produce. On the other hand, some days are more difficult than others, and you don’t always have the same levels of energy to do the job.

Let’s explore the two sides of the coin.

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