The Spark and the Grind

Ignite the Power of Disciplined Creativity

Publisher: Portfolio
We’ve been conditioned to think about creative genius as a dichotomy: dreamers versus doers, creativity versus discipline, the spark versus the grind.

But what if we’re wrong?

What if it’s the spark and the grind?

We love people whose creative genius arrives in sudden sparks of inspiration. Think of Archimedes in his bathtub or Newton under his apple tree.

But we also admire people who work incredibly hard and long for their creative breakthroughs. Think of Edison in his lab, grinding through hundreds of failed variations on the lightbulb. We remember his words in tough times: “Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.”

Now Erik Wahl, a visual artist, speaker, and entre­preneur, helps us unite the yin and yang of creativity— the dynamic new ideas with the dogged effort. He shows why we won’t get far if we rely on the spark without the grind, or the grind without the spark. What the world really needs are the creators who can hold the two in balance.

Fortunately, it’s possible to get good at both, as Wahl knows from experience. After his corporate career sud­denly ended, he pursued a spark—to paint photorealistic portraits—and ground it out until he got good enough to make very good art very quickly. That’s the basis of his riveting live shows, which have captivated skeptical audiences who never expected to be inspired by art—and taught them to embrace creativity in a whole new way.

This book offers surprising insights and practical advice about how to fan the sparks and make the grind more productive. Wahl deftly synthesizes the wisdom of other artists, philosophers, scientists, and business visionaries throughout history, along with his own views. Here’s how he sums up his approach:

The world needs people who enjoy swimming in ideas until they discover a great one. The world also needs doers who have a gift for activation, a.k.a. “getting s*** done.” But the most potent individual creators in any industry or environment have learned how to be both. They’ve learned how to spark their grind and they’ve learned how to grind their sparks. As a result, they not only make things happen, they make great things.

If you want to ensure constant creativity in your life and produce your most innovative work—this is your guide.

PRAISE FOR

“An authentic masterpiece. Erik Wahl has become a bona fide general in the ‘War of Art.’ ”
Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art

“True creativity is as much about the disciplined grind as it is the spark of inspi­ration. Erik Wahl will permanently change the way you think about pursuing innovation. Highly recommended.”
Cal Newport, author of Deep Work

“My advice to every young entrepreneur? Adopt Erik’s thesis: Stop treating your ideas so preciously. Make them real. Tangible. Taste them and touch them. When an idea sparks, get in the dirt, grind it out, and let the idea evolve . . . or don’t expect sh*t.”
Gary Vaynerchuk, author of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

“Time to stop dreaming and start doing. In this breakthrough book, Erik Wahl will open the door for you to do the hard work of making something creative happen.”
 Seth Godin, author of Linchpin

“What an absolute gem of a book. Many creativity books overemphasize either inspiration or perspiration, but Wahl shows how to harness them together to do brilliant work. Anyone who has to create for a living will find The Spark and the Grind is both thoroughly enjoyable and imminently practical.”
Todd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative

“As Erik Wahl shows in this terrific book, we must cultivate ways to ignite the spark of innovation and then keep it glowing with the grind of focused, disci­plined work. This formula will send your creativity soaring!”
Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and To Sell Is Human

"Wahl is offering a way to unlock the nascent power of creativity, yes, but he is also offering a way to unlock life’s treasures—to experience again the wonder you felt as a child at what you now take for granted. His observations are relevant to anyone with a pulse."
Huffington Post