I’m taking the time for a number of things

I found a file I was putting together for this project from several years back, and I was surprised that what I had taken note of was mostly encouraging and potentially useful. IN particular, I like the encouraging tone of what I’d written. It reminds me that the way I talk to myself can move me forward, or stop me in my tracks.

Anyhow, below is the entirety of the file. Feel free to comment on it, correct my thinking, swipe my ideas and/or generally use this to mock me mercilessly. It’s okay. Doggone it, people like me.

Creativity: An Owner’s Guide
– How to learn it, how to use it, how to teach it

~The screaming of a thousand muses

~write chapters as talk outlines:
-intro (get attention, illustrations, stories, set up topic)
-body (logically developed, practical, usable)
-conclusion (summarize, call-to-action)
, then develop the “talk”

~keep the tone conversational. write so that an 8 year old can get it, but don’t patronize, either

~don’t fear. if you get it wrong, discard what’s wrong and fix it. if it needs editing, edit. if it needs re-writing, do it. time is on your side.

~don’t try to incorporate everything you know into one grand Unification Theory. just use what really fits. additionally, realize that the first edition may be seriously flawed or deficient. that’s okay, who’s gonna get hurt?

~make this information practical and usable. think GTD for creativity.

~what about creating toward a goal, for a desired outcome?

creativity involves: perspective (viewpoint), perception (filters) and processing (ABCD). Oh, and a lot of hard work, too.

A – Alter
B – Blend
C – Copy
D – Discover

Modesty involves knowing our limitations. By modestly admitting that we, as humans, don’t create in the true sense, we free ourselves to focus fully on what our capabilities are.

So, this is a very sketchy outline of what I’m trying to accomplish with The Functional Creative. There’s a lot of work to be done, but I think it’s going to end up being worth it. I look forward to seeing how this shapes up, and from hearing from anyone who is helped by this, or who can readjust my approach.

 

As always, thanks for your time, and have an amazing day!

It took me so long to find out

I have just discovered that I don’t seem to be able to turn my head in one direction and my eyes in the opposite direction simultaneously. Cool.

Of course, this could be a well-known thing, there may even be medical papers written on the subject. Heck, there may be entire blogging communities devoted to the subject. Or, it could be that most people actually can turn their head in one direction and look the other way. Maybe I’ve got some neurological issue caused by an unknown bacteria or toxin that’s damaging the motor-function chunk of my brain.

Or, maybe I’ve been binge-watching too much “House”.

In any case, the important part of all of this is that I discovered something. “Why is that important?” one might ask. “Are you the first one to discover this? Can you profit by it? If not, who cares?”

I care. And you should, too. No, not about my discovery, but, about your own discoveries. 

When we discover something new to us, it energizes us, awakens our brain cells that hunger for new information. And it gives us a new point of reference on which to build, allowing for more creative output. 

For example, when you discover the little arrow next to the fuel gauge on your car’s dashboard, and realize that it points to the side of the car where the fuel cap is, not only is your life easier (no more accidentally parking on the wrong side of the fuel pump,) but you can also start looking for other shortcuts you may not have noticed. Or, you can use the idea of that indicator arrow in a project of your own. 

Perhaps more importantly, paying attention to your discoveries can activate the part of your brain that looks for things, namely new discoveries, opening up a wealth of tools you didn’t have on hand before.

Discovery is one of the 4 foundations of creativity (I’ll talk more about that in later posts, I promise.) Therefore, it needs to be held in high esteem. By dismissing our discoveries too quickly, we minimize our accomplishments and devalue not only our work, but far too often, ourselves.

Why not try keeping track of your discoveries in a journal, or text-message yourself when you make one? This can be a great way to keep the juices flowing, and strengthen your skills as a creative explorer.

Thanks for your time, and have an amazing day!

Yes, creativity CAN be taught

This article was originally published on September 29, 2014, on Linkedin

Of course creativity can be taught!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Last week, Jason Thibeaultposted an article claiming that creativity can not be taught. Now, I’m not saying that it’s easy, in fact it can be a tremendous amount of work, but impossible? Not even close.

And there’s a good reason why, which I’ll get to in a minute. But first, I’d like to point out a fundamental flaw in most of the arguments I’ve seen regarding this topic. No one agrees on a definition of what creativity is. Which is odd because, even accounting for variations, the dictionary seems pretty clear. For example, here are three definitions that are quite clear:

Dictionary.com (as posted in Jason’s article) – “The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.”

The Oxford online dictionary – “The use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.”

Webster’s online dictionary – “the ability to make new things or think of new ideas”

Most of the “definitions” I’ve read in other articles tend to imbue creativity with a sort of magical quality, an ethereal, intangible something that can’t quite be put into words. Even Jason headed in that direction when he leaned too heavily (in my opinion) on the importance of the word “transcendent” in the definition of creativity. I can understand that, because when we look at the results of truly creative thinking, it can be awesome. Not “this smoothie is awesome“, awesome, but rather “this work of art is so majestic, compelling and frighteningly beautiful that it leaves me trembling within myself” awesome. There is something absolutely amazing about the results of masterful creativity.

As creative as buttered toast.

But look at the definitions again. At the root is ‘the ability to create’. If you want to add the qualifier that the created item must be new and/or transcendent, that’s fine, but it should be noted that both new and transcendent are subjective terms dependant on context. For example, the first time someone thought of toasting bread, and added butter to it, something new was created, and many people will agree that a good piece of buttered toast can be transcendent. However, if you don’t care for toast, there’s little transcendence. Or if you’ve seen toast before, it’s not new, although it may be for the person who discovers it for the first time in their life.

Anyhow, for the sake of our discussion, whenever we speak of something created, we’ll assume it is also new, and transcendent.

That being the case, teaching someone to be creative is like teaching them to talk. It’s a natural ability that we develop as we grow, and master consciously later in life. We don’t teach babies how to talk. We surround babies with examples, we encourage them, we show them how we talk, and hope that they mimic us. When they get older, we send them off to school to learn the alphabet, basic sentence structure, and so on. Then we can teach poetry, story writing, and narrative. We can extend their training with voice lessons, and acting studies. All along the way, we offer examples, and try to get them to follow along. That, put over-simplistically, is teaching someone how to talk, from the first time they say “mama” to when they move audience to tears with a powerful soliloquy in a Broadway play.

So, then, why can’t we teach creativity?

We can. And, we do! We surround children with colors and shapes, and praise them for the things they come up with. “What a lovely picture! Hey! Look at you hitting that drum! Listen to her sing, isn’t that sweet?”

Often, sadly, the training stops far short of what we put forth in training math, english, and so on. But to say that it can’t be taught is frankly lazy. It’s a way of getting us off the hook for not teaching people how to think creatively. If we continue to surround a person with examples of the creative process, encouragement to try and praise for their efforts, we will be teaching them to be creative.

Jason and I went back and forth a couple of times on email after his article, and it turns out that we agree on quite a bit. The biggest difference is that he seems to hold that we mustn’t try too hard to be creative in fear of blocking the very thing we are trying to achieve. I contend that we can all be gardeners of our creative minds, working the soil, mixing in nourishing compost, watering, weeding and in general, taking care of it. Then, as with any other thing learned, our brains will process the seeds we plant and we can enjoy the fruits of creativity.

If we fail to do that, then we are just wandering through the forest hoping to find a piece of fruit growing somewhere there. And that’s a good way to be hungry more than you want to.

I Believe in Coyotes

I believe in a lot of things, actually.

One of the things I believe in that is very important to me personally is that you are creative. 

I also believe that you are in a great position to use your creativity in a way that helps you accomplish the things that are important to you, in a way that no other person on earth, or off of the earth for that matter, can do.

So what?

I believe that, for a number of reasons, people have warped the meaning of creativity in such a way as to make it inaccessible to a tragically large number of people. I’d like to address that with this project.

I also believe very deeply that creativity can be taught, or more accurately, that one can be taught to strengthen and implement one’s own inherent creative ability. I intend to prove that as we go along.

That’s it for now. I’ll be posting some things from my past, and I’ll be developing thoughts and ideas that have been bouncing around my head for a while. If you find any of this valuable, then so much the better.

Thanks for your time, and have an amazing day.