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« Parkinson's Law | Main | Dieting: The ratchet starts to take effect »
Monday
Mar192007

How to Be Creative

I guess some people are naturally creative and some are not, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t all improve our creativity. So here is a list of some of the best ways to improve your creativity:

Creativity comes out of new combinations. It’s very rare to produce something which is completely new in every respect. Creativity is much more commonly the result of bringing together two or more existing ideas and combining them in a new way.

Creativity comes out of perspiration. If you want to have new ideas then it’s important to keep working at them. Inspiration comes to those who are actively engaged in a problem, not to those who are just sitting back waiting for the big idea to come to them.

Creativity comes out of knowledge and experience. This is closely related to the previous two. The person who will have the most creative ideas about a subject is the person who knows it back to front.

Creativity comes out of questioning. There is a danger that people who know a subject well become wedded to “the way it’s always been done”. This is not a bad thing when that way is built on years of knowledge and experience. But the person who can bring a “new mind” to the subject will frequently see things which the old hands can’t see because they are blinded by familiarity.

Creativity comes out of restrictions. It’s much easier to be creative when the terms and boundaries have been defined closely. The closer you define the question the more likely you are to be able to answer it.

Creativity comes out of dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction with the way things are at present is one of the keys to creativity. But beware - this dissatisfaction can express itself in destructive ways instead of creative ways.

Creativity comes out of changing one thing. Often the key to creativity is to list the various factors involved and experiment with doing just one thing different.

Have you got any ideas to add to this list?

Reader Comments (18)

I concur with your post wholeheartedly but I always used sleep to bring these things about. I used it for my mathematics, science, literature, music, art and physical education classes. As a professional Artist I'd use it there as well. An example: If I just completed sketches in the operating room for a doctor I'd also drop by the Medical Library and get out books and magazines relating to the surgical procedure and the hypothesis of the experiment. About an hour before bed, I'd hyper-focus on my sketches, alternating with reading about it. In the background I'd have a tape looped for continuous play. If the challenge was largely artistic, I'd play Primitive Celtic Music. If the problem was working out or learning mathematics or physics, I'd play Bethoven. If I had to compose music, Mozart worked best. If I wanted to learn how to play another instrument, I'd play music featuring that instrument. If I had to design an albumn cover, I'd play the musician's music. See? I'd use the music to engrain what I was learning and/or thinking about and I wouldn't stop until I dropped into a sleep. The music would play all night long. I often woke up with books, sketches and my scriblings all over the bed......and an excited brain DYING to get to my paints, the laboratory, my class, the typewriter, etc.....I have always found that "courting and luring" my subsconscious helped me both at being more proficient and more prolific as well. It's like your brain provides you with a blue print of what you asked of it. Sleeping is the ideal time because your mind is free to focus on your request rather than "processing" the elements of your day. People thought I was multi-talented. That wasn't the case at all. I simply asked my brain to do the work for me and steal the credit! LOL!
March 19, 2007 at 18:10 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
oh, I forgot. I learned this secret from my father. He used it both for mastering surgical procedures and also for his medical research and creating better surgical procedures. This method works well with just about anything you ask your brain to do. The formula is simple. keep posing the challenge and alternate it with as much known knowledge as you can offer it and use the music as a calming "lure". It's never let me down and I thank my father for it. People will look at you like you're bonkers whilst doing it, but those same people will admire the results whilst you enjoy a buzz that only original thought or mastering something new (as least to you) can bring.
March 19, 2007 at 18:19 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
Dear Learning As I Go

Great idea. I'd love to try it out, but I'm not too sure my wife is going to approve!

Mark
March 19, 2007 at 18:35 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
LOL! Luckily you can do this anytime. At University, I'd do it between classes and on the job I'd do it during lunch hour. Sometimes the results of doing this before naps can produce excellent results as well. Initially my supervisor was adverse to me doing this but he finally backed off when HIS supervisor told him to let me keep on becuase the results were always excellent! LOL! At University, I found that trekking myself to the Philosophy building was worth it because the professor's there weren't stodgy and liked what I was doing as opposed to most of the other departments! LOL!

Surely, your wife won't mind you taking a "creative nap" during the day....if you promise to clean up the books, sketches, journals, etc? The continuous loop of music may drive her bonkers unless you have earphones that you can use whilst laying your head down, yeah? Please, Mark....give it a couple of goes...it's WONDERFUL! (It doesn't work like it used to because of my brain injuries and pain, but when I can at least try, probably just the nostalgia of what it used to do for me helps me feel better at least. I don't need the whole pie to relish the taste of it, yeah?
March 19, 2007 at 19:01 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
In relation to a couple of your points ("Creativity comes out of q uestioning, dissatisfaction"), I am sometimes aware of a little voice in my head that says things like 'This is a silly way to do this', 'This is a waste of time', and so on, while I am doing something. This voice is always right, but it is such a little voice that it is easily ignored, and I often only realise I have heard it when someone else comes along, makes the same point, and gets credit for it.

It is only then that I think, 'I knew that, I could have said that!'. Now I try to hear the little voice and take note of what it says. I have never before thought of it as creativity, but certainly it is a source of knowledge and intelligence which goes largely untapped.

I guess this is related to what "Learning As I Go" is saying. His/her method feeds and stimulates that source.

By the way, what's this 'LOL! thing? Learn Or Leave? (that was my school's motto).
March 20, 2007 at 15:03 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Riccomini
Thanks, Peter. "Learn or Leave" is a great motto for a school! But LOL actually stands for "Laughing out loud"!

Best wishes,

Mark
March 20, 2007 at 15:04 | Unregistered CommenterMark Forster
Wow the technique explained by Learning As I Go sounds incredible and I can't wait to try it! I have used the continuous loop of music method while doing painting and that works really well but have never tried to combine all the techniques that he/she mentions. Sounds really interesting. I love Mark's list and I agree with all the points. The only thing I would add is that I feel passionately that creativity applies to every area of life not just the "creative pursuits" like painting, music etc. Creativity is about attitude, about being open and expectant, flexible and curious, about thinking with "possibilities" in mind. One can have this attitude about anything in life from accountancy to zoo keeping. One of the things I have noticed about a lot of people who see themselves as creative in some areas is that they compartmentalize their creativity and only use it for those activities that they feel are "creative". They don't apply their creative skills and problem-solving abilities to all areas of their lives especially the mundane ones like making dinner each day or doing the housework. I am not sure why this is but it seems fairly prevalent among "artistic types". Other people who don't see themselves as creative at all which seems a really sad way of looking at life when all of life should be one big creative act!
March 21, 2007 at 9:56 | Unregistered CommenterNicky Perryman
Well said, Nicky! I agree 100 per cent.

Mark
March 21, 2007 at 10:39 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Not being a naturally creative person, I can tell you the times I was successfully creative:

1. When I had a very short period of time during which to do my art project, so I could not "plan" it. The nonplanning side (creative side) of the brain then kicked in.

2. When I was out of my realm, forced out of my comfort zone and into something completely unfamiliar, with other people depending on me and, once again, very little time and not much to rely on other than my own creativity.
March 21, 2007 at 17:54 | Unregistered CommenterUnderWing
Hi, Nicky! I've always admired your ideas. I'm quite flattered that you want to try my Dad's. But I have a small point of disagreement....true, there's only so much that I can pull out of doing my housework other than using that time to entertain my thoughts, but cooking? OMG! That's TOTALLY rewarding. It also has the side benefit of blessing your friends and loved ones and my ego goes sky high when someone asks me for the formula. I can't give exact amounts but I can tell them what went into the pot! LOL! My Dad used to record his recipes in exact amounts. When he liked what I created, he'd make me make it again in front of him and he'd MEASURE everything I used......it was annoying but I allowed it! LOL! Over the years I've had several female friends who thought loving to cook and clean went against their "urbane" persona.....I always thought of my kitchen as a magical laboratory! LOL!
March 21, 2007 at 18:51 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
Mark, I just thought of another requirement for creativity. One can't be too cautious against encountering failed attempts. There will be lots of them on the path to the solution. That's part of the excitement of entering "new frontiers". Lions, and tigers and bears, oh my!
March 21, 2007 at 22:52 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
Hi Learning As I Go - Do I know you under a different name?
Anyway, I agree that thinking of a kitchen as a magical laboratory is the kind of attitude I am talking about. I think what I am trying to say is when you are faced with some mundane boring task it's good to ask the question "How can I do this more creatively?" And "How can I make this more fun?"...Your mind will do whatever you ask it to and asking it to think creatively about something forces it to come up with something...the mind hates a vacuum!
Nicky
March 23, 2007 at 12:25 | Unregistered CommenterNicky Perryman
Now...how can I make vacuuming more fun? !!
March 23, 2007 at 12:26 | Unregistered CommenterNicky Perryman
Ahh, Nicky....alas, I haven't broken the code to take away the tedium of certain chores. I usually use the carrot/reward as my incentive. For totally mindless tasks like washing, cleaning, vacuuming, etc...I hold off writing until AFTER I've done a unit of cleaning. That entertains my mind as I'm thinking about what I want to write about. Or I'll use walking the dog, dancing, playing music, making fun plans with someone, etc,.....the carraot has to be juicy to actually help me enjoy the process better.as I enjoy planning or simply thinking about the reward. If I'm suffering from Stubborn Ass Syndrome, I'll invite someone over to the house. Then my generic social pride puts the fire under my butt! If personal pride or rewards don't help. avoiding Social shame works where the other attempts fail! LOL!

You probably don't know me because I'm a lurker at the other sites. Why I decided to curse Mark's blog with my prattle, who will ever know....LOL! I've even copied some of your responses to motivate me. You have a great mind!

By the way, if you ever find out how to make vacuuming fun, PLEASE share it......worse....MOPPING! I prefer cleaning out the toilet to mopping. Because I have a dog, I have to do it almost every day.....and it doesn't get any better. I have to trick myself to do each EVERY TIME. I've never found the grace to accept it peacefully....I say with chagrin that it's a no options chore...but it's not so bad when I think that having a wonderful pet is the cause of it....like vacuuming EVERYDAY becuase they aren't called German Shedders (Shepards) for nothing.
March 23, 2007 at 16:36 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
oops...Shepherds...sorry
March 23, 2007 at 16:41 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
Hi Learning As I Go thanks for the compliment! I am flattered! I agree, the house never looks as tidy as when I know someone is coming round.
One idea I have for vacuuming (which I hate hate hate) is to wear ear muffs, you know the kind that people use on building sites and get the funky ones that have a radio inside. At least the noise will be more pleasant. For unpleasant chores I tend to tell myself I only have to do them for a few minutes and then I can stop if I want to. It's like talking to a child. If I think I can only bear about 5 minutes of something awful then once the 5 minutes is up I feel good for lasting that long. I feel even better if I can carry on a bit longer and because I don't "have to" it means I am not fighting myself so much and being rebellious. Isn't it weird how you have to trick yourself so much sometimes? Have you tried vacuuming the dog? I have heard that works for some people! (And dogs).
March 26, 2007 at 12:24 | Unregistered CommenterNicky Perryman
LOL...Hi, again Nicky

Yes I do vacuum the dog. She tolerates it only because she's so devoted to both me and doing her commands well. If only I could be so single-minded to always do well just to hear "Good job". German Shephers are VERY task-oriented with laser focus and long attention spans. I parlayed her attitude and even taught her to allow me to Dremel her claws! LOL! (Dremel is a grinding tool! LOL!) But even with me vacuuming her, I still have to vacuum my house as they shed 24/7 and when their undercoating is blowing off, it's a total nightmare for about 2 weeks....hair inside the toothpaste cap, inside the freezer, in between the pages of a book, etc....The only reason I put up with this is because the breed is so personable, intelligent, devoted, and hard working. Besides the coat management ordeal, you have to keep them well trained and buzy....otherwise they can be destructive or dangerous. It's definitely not a low maintenance breed! LOL!
March 27, 2007 at 12:49 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
Rather you than me! Hair inside the toothpaste cap? Yuk! Couldn't you varnish her or something?!!!! (only kidding!)
March 28, 2007 at 16:49 | Unregistered CommenterNicky Perryman

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