Pretty interesting read here. I’m a person who has been identified on more than one occasion as a “creative thinker”. Fair enough, I do love to consider abstract ideas and thoughts. I happened to catch Mr. Lehrer on Fresh Air this week and downloaded this book. I have to say, this really resonated with me. I’m curious about your thoughts on this process.
Among the themes here-
Creative moments tend to come “out of the blue”. I tend to use the word “epiphany” a bunch. Seems like I’m always having them, and at odd times. I can’t even begin to count how many blog posts, ideas, solves to difficult problems have appeared when I lest expected it. I’ve lost more great ideas than I’ve been able to act on or write about simply because the manifested themselves at inconvenient times and, like all good ideas, the seem to vanish back to what ever dimension or place they come from before I can jot down a few notes to help me find them again. I now keep a moleskine journal on the nightstand. My nightstand is rather crowded with a stupid CPAP, clock radio, book or nook and wedged in there a notebook for jotting down stuff that comes to me when I wake up at 3:00am. Unfortunately I haven’t yet figured out how to put a pen or pencil next to notebook or at least keep it there. The iPhone has a record button that works too, if I can figure it out in the stupor of early morning half consciousness.
I also keep a note book in the brief/manpurse case. Always. Burn through about one a year with jottings, notes, drawings and other musings.
There does seem to be places around here where clear thinking and ideas come to me better than others. The shower is by far the single greatest contemplation chamber in the house, bar none! More blogs have come to me when I’m in there than anywhere else on the planet.
There are even times when these ideas come so fast and furious that it becomes tough to manage them. This makes me wonder about the relationship between creative thinking and ADD. As a guy who today would have probably gone through school in a Ritalin induced stupor I have to wonder about how fast I seem to be able to switch topics and thoughts, at times having some difficulty just keeping focused on tasks at had. I see folks who are more disciplined in their thinking styles who have enormous difficulty considering more than one thing at a time or who can’t think outside the box as they say. Thinking is a pretty fascinating activity if you ask me.
Turning “epiphanies into big ideas takes work”. I have yet to come up with a big idea, and believe me I try. Fact is in my most creative mode the most I get it is a kernel of an idea. I piece of something that needs development and nurturing to make it into something worthy of an being something to act upon. I’ve found that only through collaboration and what the author calls “outside expertise” do any ideas become really worthwhile. Iteration and rework are essential to making useful concepts out of all the garbage that I can think off.
I have found that I actually really enjoy being the outside expert on others ideas. Problem solving goes much better and faster for me when we attack it in a small group. At this point I should add that I’m extremely grateful to have found a niche in life where I can be creative and generate ideas and that someone actually pays me for it.
Here’s what doesn’t work- Monster meetings where large groups are gathered to discuss and “brainstorm”. I’ve yet to see a really good idea come out of one those. What I tend to see is creative approaches getting squashed. For that reason I’ve become much less of a fan of the white boarding session.
What these big meetings are good for is helping the frame the questions that have to be solved, but my experience they fail on actually developing the solution. Were I the King I think I’d develop a creative approach where the old kickoff sessions were simply to frame questions. Small groups would go from there and work on solutions, bring them back for consideration. These solutions don’t even have to be right, they have to be in place. I’ve always thought that it was better to start a solution solve with framework of something rather than a blank slate. People know what they like and don’t like about things better than they’re able to start from scratch.
Depression and Creativity. No arguing the strong correlation between depression and great art. History is full of depressed people who have produced cultural works that are the hight One of the theories put forward here is that manic highs bring about great mental acuity. I would agree with this.
And on the other hand, depression and sadness make you a better editor. Personally I’m much more critical of my work when I’m on the low side of my moods. I think slower and become more methodical, which in theory would enable me refine and hone the ideas I generated when I was in more of the creative mode.
I have a great example of that right here on the blog. When I go back and read some of the stuff I’ve written, some of my very best posts are among the worst edited POS’s out there. It’s like when I’ve got it going on and the ideas are flowing from my brain to the keyboard, well there’s just no stinking way that I’m going back to edit. I’m a shitty editor as it is now I think I know why.
How about you guys? Care to chime in on your own experiences in this? Come with me a consider a abstract thought for a while.