How Unnecessary Creating Changes Everything

by | Process

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from  Chad Allen, who is a professional in the book publishing industry. Chad indicated that he was planning to publish a post on his blog about how “unnecessary creating” had changed his world. I asked if he would be willing to allow us to publish the post on the Accidental Creative site as well. Below is Chad’s story of how the practice of engaging in creating on his own terms has unlocked new ideas and creative energy for his daily work. (If you want to read more of Chad’s writing, he blogs about writing, publishing, and creativity here.)


In the book [amazon_link id=”1591844010″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Accidental Creative[/amazon_link] you learn a dozen or so practices  designed to help you unleash your creative potential. One of the practices recommended is called “unnecessary creating”, and it’s changed everything for me.

What is unnecessary creating?

Unnecessary creating projects have two criteria:

  1. No pay. You’re not being paid for the project.
  2. No timeline. You’re not on a deadline.

That’s it. Go.

Some examples of my own unnecessary creating projects include:

  • A letter I wrote to my five-year-old son that I will present to him on his thirteenth birthday
  • A wooden spoon that I carved and gave to my mother-in-law
  • A letter I wrote to connect with my 11-year-old nephew who lives in a different state
  • My blog

My next unnecessary creating project is to perfect a pistachio pudding dessert a friend served my family a while ago. I’ve been dreaming about it ever since and can think of no place I’d rather be king than the land of pistachio pudding!

Why does it change everything? 

I can say with confidence that if it weren’t for Todd’s admonition to be working on an unnecessary creating project for at least an hour a week, I never would have done any of the above. Instead, I would have been doing something really productive like watching Bachelor Pad and eating Oreos. That’s not to say I don’t need to tune out sometimes, as we all do, but it’s so easy for me to get in the rut of spending all my leisure time in relatively useless activities.

Unnecessary creating changes everything because it redeems useless time into time spent doing genuinely meaningful things for yourself and others.

How Can You Get Started?

  1. Brainstorm a list of possibilities. Start with the list I gave above. Do any of these possibilities spark an idea for you?
  2. Choose one hour a week when you will do some unnecessary creating. (For me it tends to happen on Thursday nights at 8pm.) Get it on the calendar.
  3. Follow through. Remember: you’re not getting paid, and there’s no deadline, so have fun!
  4. Tell others about the experience, and spread the word. Why should you have all the fun?

This week, what will be your unnecessary creating project? It could be a poem, a piece of art, a letter, a sculpture, a blog post, a self-published book you plan to give away, a landscaping project, painting a room, cooking a dessert—whatever you want.


Your turn – what is your unnecessary creating project going to be?

Todd Henry

Todd Henry

Positioning himself as an “arms dealer for the creative revolution”, Todd Henry teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He is the author of five books (The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words, Herding Tigers, The Motivation Code) which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks and consults across dozens of industries on creativity, leadership, and passion for work.

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