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Creativity tip: tell a tall tale

One form of creativity is exaggeration. The ability to take the formless, random occurrences of life and turn them into a satisfying story or image means that you have to focus in on some parts and forget about others. The parts that are focussed on are exaggerated and heightened.

Recently, exaggeration has come under fire. The New Republic attacked David Sedaris for making up parts of his stories and changing details. I hope they also plan on going back and exposing the lies of Mark Twain in his personal essays. And, while they’re at it, they might as well expose the lies of Louis CK, Richard Pryor and every other comedian who tells true stories about their lives.

To deny the value of exaggeration in your creative life is to deny your creative life altogether. As soon as you try to communicate an event you’ve observed to someone else, whether it’s through writing, sculpture, painting or any other method, it is no longer “the truth.”

In my estimation, you should wear your exaggerations proudly. Realize that the people you meet become symbols when they become part of art.  Artists are the most skilled liars in the world. Some are so skilled at it that they have convinced themselves that they never lie.

Lie consciously, lie well and remember your lies so that when you lie again you don’t negate something that you’ve already said.

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