Conformity is the enemy of creativity. This is a tough lesson to learn. It was for me anyway. From an early age, we are asked to conform. Society promotes, supports and rewards conformity. We are punished if we “step out of line” or don’t follow the rules. We are rewarded for being model students, for having good behavior and for generally imitating the predefined standards of our predecessors.
Newspaper journalist Bill Vaughan said, “If there is anything the nonconformist hates worse than a conformist, it’s another nonconformist who doesn’t conform to the prevailing standards of nonconformity.”
On the contrary, I’ve heard that routine, as well as novelty, can promote creativity. I do think a certain level of routine is comforting, like a morning coffee ritual, taking the same route to work every day, or taco Tuesdays. Having a predictable part of your day or week is safe and keeps us grounded. The more tasks we can perform under our subconscious control free up our minds for conscious creativity. I even think there’s a certain amount of OCD in all of us ( … OK, in me, I’ll admit). For some creative types, many well-known writers, for instance, a strict routine is actually a necessary evil.
The difference between routine and conformity is that routine is your choice. It’s part of what defines you. It works for you. Conformity is going to the mandatory Monday meeting just because it’s scheduled on your Outlook calendar. It’s dress codes and cubicle rules. Routines are things that you are fond of.
If you read the editor’s letter in the previous issue of Laguna Beach Magazine, then you are aware that my “right hand” (Micaela Myers) has left Firebrand to pursue a new adventure. In the wake of her departure, a big part of my normal routine has changed. Micaela was not only the editor of Laguna Beach Magazine, she was our group editor overseeing the entire editorial department. She had been with me since the beginning of Laguna Beach Magazine, and I had come to depend on her ability to get things done in a remarkable way. My routine with Micaela included no less than a couple dozen emails a day (at all hours). It was comforting, and it was good. But now, like the singularity of a puzzle piece, she left a void that could not be matched.
Laguna Beach Magazine is our flagship publication, and we’ve blazed our own path from the beginning. This is not the time for conformity. That is why I turned to Alli Tong. She is unique and observant. She is a capable and organized journalist. She has a mad sense of humor and a work ethic that any boss would kill for. Alli is the new editor of Laguna Beach Magazine, and she is a new aspect of my routine. We are proud to have her, and I think the magazine will be infused with her inimitable personality and it will continue to evolve, as it should.
If we continue to do everything in the same way all the time, then there’s never opportunity to grow, change or innovate. The more things we experience, and the more people we have experiences with, the bigger our creative coffers are to draw from.
I believe in the thought that we should live looking through the windshield, not the rearview mirror. Although it’s important to see where we’ve been, it’s imperative to look at where we’re going and be open to all that implies.
I’m proud to have Alli Tong become part of my new routine. And, I’m certain that the readers of Laguna Beach Magazine will, as well.
Steve Zepezauer, CEO & Editorial Director