Yes, it’s a real word. Originating from Latin, it means “something real that’s invisible”.
This is a rich mine for raw materials in the creative process and it often yields the best results. It yields the ore that matters most, despite the irony that it’s not visible, almost impossible to hold, and hard to describe.
I’ll refine the paradox. The day-to-day tangibility of our world—oil wells and doctors’ offices and traffic jams—describe frames for our experiences. But the things that usually power the most lasting, most meaningful creative momentum are the intangible implications of reality. The traffic jam describes where we are, but the experience of sitting in a hot car going nowhere is the stuff of drama. (Ok, traffic jams by themselves might not be the next hit on HBO, but you should get the gist here.) In other words, the things we cannot see or touch or taste are the things that matters most. The traffic is not what’s meaningful, but the implications of traffic propel something else entirely.
The moment we start paying attention to what we cannot see is the moment our daily actions— especially our creative ones—start to accumulate mass and momentum. The implications of the physical world are more important than the constructions we build in it. Whether you’re creating a new business deal, directing a major motion picture, or taking your four year old to nursery school, there’s a whole world of invisible reality binding together the atoms of your day. Ask yourself why the thing you’re seeing or the plans your making or the actions you’re doing matters, and you’ll likely describe something you can neither see nor hold. Get good at valuing those invisible, intangible things, and you’re life as a creative force, no matter what you do, will pay profound dividends.