Our Janaury speaker, Discourse Media’s editor-in-chief and CEO Erin Millar will be talking on the topic of Creativity and Anxiety.
Erin Millar has received multiple awards for journalism innovation, including being named 2015 Bob Carty Fellow by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, Storyteller-in-Residence at Ashoka Canada, and an AmEx Emerging Innovator. She has hosted talks and workshops across Canada and internationally, including at the Canadian Association of Journalists national conference and Italy’s International Journalism Festival and has reported from over a dozen countries for Canadian and international publications. Erin taught journalism at Quest University Canada and Langara College. She is a trustee of the Uncharted Journalism Fund and serves on the board of the National Magazine Awards Foundation.
How do you define creativity and apply it in your life and career?
Creativity has expressed itself in different ways throughout my career: I was a professional jazz saxophonist before devoting myself to journalism and storytelling. But much of what I know as a writer I learned as a musician, such as creative tools like tension, release, rhythm, counterpoint, mimicry. I am now founder and CEO of a digital news media startup and I am applying creativity to the task of imagining into reality new models, practices and systems that can realign journalists to serve communities as opposed to advertisers.
Where do you find your best creative inspiration or energy?
Honestly? Sleep. I am also a new mother of twins and so sleeps is the greatest source of, and barrier to, creativity. I am still amazed how much more possibility becomes apparent after a full eight hours of shuteye.
What’s one piece of creative advice or a tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Creativity works in cycles, so be patient. As a musician I would struggle with a new concept or skill for weeks and feel like I was making no progress. Then weeks or months later, once I had moved on to something else entirely, that new skill would naturally show up in my improvisation, almost like magic. So much of my creative process occurs subconsciously, and so I’ve had to learn to be patient and forgiving with myself.
Who (living or dead) would you most enjoy hearing speak at CreativeMornings?
That’s an impossible question. Well, how about Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre? I once took a very obscure spherical trigonometry class and was delighted and surprised by how elegant, beautiful and creative math can be.
How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?
I used to write stories for a living; I now write emails so that others can write stories for a living.
What was the best advice you were ever given?
I once asked a mentor – a very high powered female CEO, author, mother, volunteer, board director, and on and on – how she managed to do so much, and still have a relatively healthy life. Her response: “I say yes to everything that seems worthwhile and is interesting and then I forgive myself when I mess some things up.” I loved that.