Roger von Oech

Creative Think

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Liz Strauss

Being in publishing meant deadlines were a way of life. I sometimes feel lost without them. I've had to structure them back into my life to get things done.

I have the same response that you do with these two pre- and post-deadlines added in(maybe yours are implicit). Time to reflect for a few minutes at the front end. Time to walk away before a last look at the back end.

When I know I have those two little deadline spaces before and after, then my creativity is free to run wild and my internal editor can just keep her mouth shut. :)


I'm always amazed at what I can do when I am limited on time and resources. I'm glad I read this today because I have on my calendar to update my blogs but have been stuck deciding on what to write. I'm probably going to reduce the categories on one of my blogs so I can focus better. I am committed to setting stricter deadline and focusing more on certain areas in 2007. Thanks for your encouragement.


It's great to find your blog! I am a fan of your whack pack and am delighted to see you in a new medium.

Deadlines are certainly one way to go. But deadlines often have an arbitrary sense to them that leads to sub optimization. "Conquer Baghdad ASAP" or "Get a constitution approved by February" can lead to actions that are great / creative / impressive in terms of the short-term goal but might mess up your larger goal ("establish a stable democracy"). It's great to have a sense of urgency. It just has to be in the right context.

Drew McLellan


Boy do I know this! We call it creativity on demand. If I had to sit around and wait for the muses to inspire me, I'd be in big trouble!

I think most writers would agree that given too much time, they tinker with their work to the point that they damage it.

I'm not advocating just whipping something out with no thought. But knowing you have a deadline certainly helps you stay focused and doesn't let self-doubt or second guessing destroy a good thing.


Roger von Oech

Liz: I think we use deadlines in similar ways. I hate to be frantic at the end, which is one reason I like to give myself an earlier deadline — to have some relaxed final thinking.

Patrick: A wonderful benefit of deadlines is that they force you to focus on the important elements, and, in the process, allow you to eliminate some of the lesser important (or non-essential) elements.

Ron: Indeed. Context does determine a lot of things. If you've got the wrong objective, getting there twice as fast won't make it the right objective. BTW, I enjoyed visiting your site.

Mark McGuinness

Nice to start the New Year with a deadline!

This rings completely true for me - certainly did when I was finishing my dissertation last year!

And I love writing sonnets, sestinas and other rhymed verse forms. A nice poetry game is for a group of you to randomly pick six words, then you all have 60 seconds to write a poem including those words.

david armano

I totally agree 100 percent. Deadlines are not the enemy of creativity. If anything it stimulates the problem solving process which in essance is creativity. Being spread to thin is another story. If we task our creative teams with too many different problems to solve, stretching them in all kinds of different directions--that is when we point the pistol at our feet and pull the trigger.

BTW, who is Kathy Sierra? ;)

Roger von Oech

Drew: Thanks for your thoughts. I'm reminded of Bach in the 1720s in Leipzig. In addition to all his other duties of writing state music, teaching, being a father and a husband, etc., every Monday he had to write a full blown cantata — usually 20-25 minutes in length — with all the voices, etc. Tuesday was scoring day. Wednesday was practice. Sunday was performance. And then another Monday every week throughout the year.

David: Good point about having too many deadlines. Are you missing any toes? Or do you have steel boots?

david armano

Steel boots when I can remember to wear them. :)

Juicing For Weightloss

Applying a fair amount of pressure can certainly get those artistic juices flowing but be forewarned too much can break a person down and dry up those juices too.

Steve Jones

A very good post and an excellent blog. I am now a follower. Thanks, Steve @

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