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Once!
12-21-2013, 05:29 PM
Creative writers are two a penny; efficient hacks are very rare.
Lord Beaverbrook (1879-1964)

Spotted this quote in a dictionary of humorous quotations. I couldn't decide whether to agree with it vehemently or disagree with it equally vehemently. Here's the full quote, taken from the Daily Telegraph obituary of Nicholas Phipps in 2004:



Nicholas Phipps left Eton in 1943 to attend a six-month tank-driving course at Oxford and secure a commission in the 10th Royal Hussars. After the Army, he turned down the chance of "a proper financial education" at Rothschild's on the grounds of the low pay, and instead took a job on the William Hickey column of the Daily Express.

He had impressed the paper's proprietor, Lord Beaverbrook, by appearing for an interview in a huge beaver coat that had belonged to his Buccleuch grandfather and by announcing that he was not a creative writer, only an efficient hack. "Thank God," replied the press baron. "Creative writers are two a penny. Efficient hacks are very rare."



http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1467197/Nicholas-Phipps.html

Okay, so it's talking about journalism rather than fiction, but it got me wondering. Do we worry too much about creativity and not enough about the basic efficiencies of the craft?

Ken
12-21-2013, 05:43 PM
... anyone wearing "a huge beaver coat" is deserving of scorn. Grr.

As to the question, probably to some extent creativity is given too much importance. It has a tendency to draw writers away from the essentials or just writing a story that'll sell and find appeal. But at the same time, creativity is very important which goes without saying. Good to keep tabs though. Worthwhile question as such, with far better answers to follow I'm sure.

ap123
12-21-2013, 05:47 PM
I don't think you can separate the two. Without basic craft and skills, creative pieces will go nowhere. Without creativity, craft and skills will be a dry yawn that falls flat.

I think every fiction writer who spends any time here is aware of the need for both.

Layla Nahar
12-21-2013, 05:56 PM
All I aspire to is to be an efficient hack. Sadly, I seem to be very very creative...

DreamWeaver
12-21-2013, 08:19 PM
All I aspire to is to be an efficient hack. Sadly, I seem to be very very creative......so, you might aspire to be efficiently creative :D. Kind of sounds like the best of both worlds to me!

MookyMcD
12-21-2013, 10:07 PM
I don't think you can separate the two. Without basic craft and skills, creative pieces will go nowhere. Without creativity, craft and skills will be a dry yawn that falls flat.

I think every fiction writer who spends any time here is aware of the need for both.

This, times eleven.

Jamesaritchie
12-21-2013, 10:29 PM
Creative writers are two a penny. Really great stories, however, are the most valuable items on earth.

Manuel Royal
12-22-2013, 05:36 AM
Okay, so it's talking about journalism rather than fiction ....That's a pretty big distinction. People read news stories for accurate, clearly-presented information. A creative touch is nice too, but not the essence of the craft.

For fiction, I'd say skill at the craft of writing is as essential as creative ideas -- but without the latter, it'd be a dull old world.

lolchemist
12-22-2013, 05:56 AM
The best of both worlds would be creative and efficient writers.

In other words: FINISH THE DAMNED BOOK!

shadowwalker
12-22-2013, 06:19 AM
I do think writers sometimes get too attached to the "creative" thing. Sometimes it's because of a lack of discipline ("But I want to!") and other times it's just a bad attitude ("I am an artiste!"). A bit of efficient hackery would be of great benefit to those folks.

gingerwoman
12-22-2013, 07:22 AM
All I aspire to is to be an efficient hack. Sadly, I seem to be very very creative...
I think I get what you mean.
I just want to learn to be fast and prolific and I know many fast, prolific writers who are also creative. They are creative within restraints, keeping an eye on the market.

Medievalist
12-22-2013, 07:43 AM
I'm not creative; I am efficient and punctual.

blacbird
12-22-2013, 09:26 AM
My initial response is: "Who the hell is Lord Beaverbrook, and why should anybody pay attention to what he said?"

caw

Buffysquirrel
12-22-2013, 07:20 PM
If you've ever read any of Beaverbrook's papers, you'll know his hacks are very creative indeed.