Monday, April 23, 2012

On Creativity, part 2

Picking up where we left off last post, I want to talk about how to best get into the Open Mode (OM), that place of play and creativity.

  • Ideal conditions for Open Mode
1. Space
2. Time
3. Time (yes, twice)
4. Confidence
5. Humor

Space is finding a place where you can be undisturbed, simple as that.

Time (the first one) refers to the temporal.  Once you have a place, you need to give yourself time to play.  No less than 30 minutes, because the brain will need that much time to get "ready", and if you end there, you end frustrated.  No more than 90 minutes at a time, to avoid mental fatigue.  Another session of 90 minutes in a few days.

Time (the second one) addresses when to make a decision.  John Cleese, in the video, describes a colleague that he found much more creative than himself, but who would produce less creative sketches.  This member would take the first idea/solution that came to mind, which was often not at creative as one that might come later in the process.  Taking the first solution makes people often feel "better", but those who are the most creative are ok with that slight discomfort of an issue yet resolved.

Confidence is the antithesis of fear.  Fear of making a mistake will stop creativity faster than anything else.  To be open to whatever happens is the essence of play.  If you're worried that some direction you take might be "wrong", you cannot play; you're either free to play, or not.  In this mode, you risk being silly, illogical, and/or wrong, but there's no such thing as a mistake.  Who knows what might lead to a breakthrough?

Finally, Humor is what gets us from OM to Closed Mode (CM) quicker than anything else.  Being serious is one thing, but solemnity serves no purpose other than pompousity.  Humor is essential to being playful!

  • If you put in the time, you will be rewarded
If you've spent enough time pondering, your brain will come up with ideas out of the blue.

  • It's easier to be creative when there are other people to play with.
 Throwing out ideas with others produces more sparks.  However, if one of those people makes you feel defensive, you lose confidence and that creativity dies.  Never use words like "no" or "I don't like that," try, "go on" or "I don't understand that, can you explain it to me again?"

  •  Absurdity has its place.
You can exercise loosening up your assumptions by playing with deliberately crazy connections.  It's contrary to the idea of having to be right at every stage.  Even if an idea is absurd, it can be a stepping stone to something that is useful!


So that's how to be creative.  Go do it!  :D

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