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Kill Your Darlings – And Other Creative Habits Learned from Authors


by Lindsay Wickham, Syracuse

When it comes to entrepreneurship, creativity is key. If you’re launching or working to grow a venture, it can be difficult to hone in your vision and practice habits that can help you to achieve your goals and find success. According to the article 5 Creative Habits Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Novelists as originally published in Fast Company, there are five habits that entrepreneurs can practice to up their creativity and performance:

Image created by Lindsay Wickham

Image created by Lindsay Wickham

Practice and perfect your pitches: Writers don’t just walk into a magazine office or publishing house with the next bestseller. Like entrepreneurs, they spend many hours (and sometimes years) pitching story ideas to editors. Writers tend to know when they need to adapt a pitch to a specific audience—entrepreneurs can learn from this and be able to adapt a pitch depending on the context in which its being given. Think about what you’re emphasizing and to whom you are emphasizing it. If parts of a pitch (or the business model itself) aren’t working, it may be time to move on.

“Kill your darlings” so you can revise: Originally a phrase used for writers who are attached to a character/plotline/scene that ultimately weighs down a story, entrepreneurs can sometimes tend to hold on too long for their product/service/logo/etc that sometimes took years to creative and build but may not show returns. This doesn’t mean giving up or scrapping an idea completely—it means being flexible to pivot and iterate.

Show more than you tell: A writer who is successfully can place you into a scene by describing every last detail and putting you there. Don’t just tell investors why your product is revolutionary—prove it by offering demos and demonstrating how it outperforms your competitors.

Draw inspiration from unlikely resources: While its great to read business books and entrepreneurial magazines and watch TEDTalks featuring that content, try looking beyond the business world. Draw inspiration from fields and industries outside of the one that your company is in.

Make something the world needs: When surveying the business landscape, listen for silences instead of just looking for successes. It takes a more creative eye to discover what needs are going unmet.

On the bridge between a business and a creative mindset/focus, it’s not enough to think outside the box… start by looking inside a good book!