About Creativity: Tolkien Vs Tolstoy

They are great writers. They are known worldwide. They are the authors of two of my favorite books: Lord of the Rings and War and Peace. Those books have many things in common:

  • they have, more or less, the same length
  • they describe several different characters interacting with each others
  • these characters live in a well described world
  • the stories are engaging

However there is one big difference: inside Lord of the Rings everything is fictional (including some languages) while War and Peace is an historical novel. In other words, Tolstoy1 has made his main characters to interact with the real world, while Tolkien has created from scratch a whole world with an history.

At this point, you would say that Tolkien is more creative than Tolstoy, right? I have a different idea.

Programmers And Creativity

I don't remember where I've read the following quote, but I think it's true.

It takes a totally different kind of effort to go from 0 to 1 than from 1 to 10.

Creating an innovative app require for sure a great amount of creativity. But take that app and give it a good looking UI, optimize it, make it usable, add some useful side functions, etc. require creativity as well.

When Product Managers write a specification for a new app, they have just "created" something new. But when you implement that spec, you must be creative too. You have to find creative solutions to do what the PMs want, to increase speed, to handle particular situations, etc. Engineers at Apple know the amount of job hidden behind a successful product.

I think that a huge part of my job as a programmer is to find creative solutions to the issues I find along the way. To put it down in other words, programmers must be creative, no matter whether they are implementing their own or someone else's idea.

The fact that usually developers have constraints, should not be seen as a restriction to their creativity but as an opportunity to search new solutions and explore new ways.

  1. I've already mentioned Lev Tolstoy in Battles And Management


Cover image taken from Pixabay licensed under the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication license.

Luca Sommacal

Luca Sommacal

Italian developer (mainly in C for embedded platforms), Linux learner, addicted to rock music, history, science and few other things. Follow me on Twitter

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