Lichtenbergianism: Chapter Two, part 2

As I work my way through the text of my putative book on the creative process, you might like to read the rest of the text so far here.  Also, the rest of my meditations on the process here.


The Nine Precepts

To recap:

  1. We are all creative.
  2. Creativity is not genius.
  3. Make the thing that is not.
  4. Beware the impostor syndrome.

And what does procrastination have to do with any of the above?

Before we decided to give that seminar at GHP, there really wasn’t such a thing as Lichtenbergianism. The Lichtenbergian Society was just us Lichtenbergians doing our Lichtenbergian thing. But as I began mulling over exactly what we would be presenting in the seminar—you know, that pesky content thing—my over-organized mind found that within the Lichtenbergian membership certain mindsets and processes seemed to be the rule. So I categorized them into the Nine Precepts of Lichtenbergianism.

  1. Task Avoidance [again, in the published book, these will be in small caps]
  2. Abortive Attempts
  3. Successive Approximation
  4. Waste Books
  5. Ritual
  6. Steal from the Best
  7. Gestalt
  8. Audience
  9. Abandonment

Each Precept is a loose collection of ideas and principles about the creative process, often overlapping into the others. Lichtenbergianism is incoherent, in the sense that there’s no rigor in its conception or application—you can pick and choose and ignore and embrace each part as it suits your needs.

Nor is it linear—you don’t “do” the Precepts in order. There is no “leveling up” from Precept Two to Precept Three. They all exist simultaneously in any project you choose to work on, each coming to the forefront of your consciousness as needed.

Lichtenbergianism’s value lies in its flexibility and its permission-giving: it gives you permission to create without the deadly threat of producing something “perfect.”

Only Mozart can do that—and he’s dead.

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” — Chuck Close[1]


[1] Currey, M., & Currey, M. (2014). Daily rituals: How artists work (p. 64). New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

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