Sunday, June 6, 2010

Creativity in 5 Minutes

Jeff Warren's Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness includes a brief but nifty summary of the skills of the creative (p. 50). I list them here with elaboration.
  1. Spontaneity: While contemplation and reflection are rare in our speed-of-light lives, one can think too much and too long. Fear of mistakes often paralyses creativity. Homework: try doing something impulsive this week (that isn't immoral, illegal, or fattening).
  2. Effortlessness: I once wrote a letter to (and got an answer from) Kurt Vonnegut telling him how hard I laughed at his description of a woman, "whose greatest act of creativity was squishing old slivers of soap onto a new bar of soap." Creative acts need not be rocket science. Homework: Pay attention this week to all those tiny acts of creativity you do in the normal course of a day. If you can't find any, squish slivers of soap together.
  3. Expressiveness: Social networking is fueled by expressiveness. Once I answered the question, "What do I care about people's daily breakfast menu?" I began to appreciate micro blogs as tiny acts of creative expression. Homework: post something on line this week; it lets your fans know you're alive and kicking.
  4. Innocence: Creative people are typically too naive to know that something can't be done so they try it anyway. The result? The Wright brothers flying machine, Edison's incandescent light, Salk's vaccine, Dean Kamen's Segway, and Chuck Hoberman's sphere. Homework: don't let naysayers, party-poopers, or pessimistic drudges rain on your parade. Keep believing you are capable of creating new ways of doing things.
  5. A lack of fear for the uncertain, ambiguous, or unknown: Control freaks, black and white thinkers, and the "highly certain" are generally not too creative. Homework: Instead of looking at the gray areas of life as threatening, see them as opportunities for creativity. A whole genre of Biblical literature is dedicated to ambiguity: wisdom literature (Job and Ecclesiastes in particular).
  6. An ability to tolerate bi-polarities and to integrate opposites: Juxtaposing two different things unleashes all sorts of new ideas. Creativity is stifled when, for the sake of harmony, one polarity is ignored, eliminated, or discounted. Homework: this week list all the things apples and oranges have in common.

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