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jdcfsu
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2010-03-15, 22:52

Earlier today on Twitter, Felicia Day linked to an article on Psychology Today about Everyday Creativity. It's a long article but well worth devoting a few minutes to reading. The premiss is that we have mislabeled "creativity" into an artistic or inventive term and that there are actually tons of way that *most* of us are creative every single day.

So, I come asking how is it that you practice everyday creativity?

My thought is that by expressing our various forms of everyday creativity we can spur each other's creative juices on the whole. And who knows, we might come up with some pretty cool ideas to try as well.

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Capella
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2010-03-16, 01:03

The article was fascinating and I really liked it and I want to think about examples that I do- but I'm too painfilled to do it right now. Still, thanks for the link; I love when people share stuff like this.

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Robo
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2010-03-17, 00:56

People act like creativity is some arcane skill, when they do things like send their employees to special "creativity seminars" that will somehow unlock their ability to be creative. But it's not.

Creativity isn't actually creating something. It's just connecting the dots. Nothing more, nothing less. You know that puzzle, where there's a grid of dots that looks like this?

. . .
. . .
. . .


The goal is to connect all the dots using four straight lines, without lifting your pen. It's where we get the cliche "thinking outside the box," shorthand for being able to see things in a new way. This is what "creativity seminars" are supposed to help employees with.

But that's all bullshit. The important thing isn't learning some special perspective that allows you to magick original ideas out of the ether. The important thing is connecting the damn dots.

Nothing is really new. You can't, say, write an entirely original story, and it's stupid to try. All you can hope to do -- and all you should try to do -- is to connect two unconnected dots, and see what happens.

The easiest example, since we're all here, is Apple. Nothing Apple does is new, per se. Yet they're the most admired company in the world because they know what dots to connect. Jobs isn't known for painting or poetry but he's clearly still creative, and it's in this sense of "everyday" creativity. Practical creativity, really.

You have to be creative (or, at least, surround yourself with creative people) to run a successful business or charity or political campaign. People too often think of creativity as optional, or at the very least, auxiliary. It's like, you go to your special creativity corner to be creative, some of the time. If you're an employee, you're creative only at pre-defined creativity sessions, unless you're one of the special "Creatives." It's ridiculous. Having a "creative department" is like having a "competitive department" (*cough* GM ). The entire organization needs to have a creative culture.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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Robo
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2010-03-17, 01:31

It's how you see opportunities, really. Any opportunity -- business, personal, whatever. Take domain hacks. You pretty much have to be creative to get a good domain name, because all the obvious ones are taken, at least in .com (which conventional wisdom says is what you'd want). But if you're creative, you can turn your lemon TLDs into lemonade. del.icio.us was way more memorable than Delicious.com. It was memorable because it used a "bad" TLD.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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scratt
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2010-03-17, 02:27

I don't know. I think there is quite a divide between "creative" and "intelligent".

What you seem to be talking about is applied intelligence, problem solving, and pattern matching. All cool things, and all certainly part of the creative process.

But creativity can be something else altogether. It can encompass artistic, which is not at all about simply "connecting dots". Although it can involve that too.

I don't think that aspect of creativity can necessarily be taught, or learned as a skill by anyone.

'Remember, measure life by the moments that take your breath away, not by how many breaths you take'
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Last edited by scratt : 2010-03-17 at 02:55.
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Robo
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2010-03-17, 03:15

Quote:
Originally Posted by scratt View Post
It can encompass artistic, which is not at all about simply "connecting dots".
Really? I'd disagree. I think that any "new" idea -- and that's what "creativity" is about, right? -- is formed by connecting existing ideas. The idea for my current work in progress, for example. Two unrelaed ideas crashed into my head and the result is what will hopefully be an enjoyable suspense series. This is, incidentally, exactly the way that Stephen King describes his creative process in On Writing. You could argue that neither of us is "artistic," but if you did I'd wager that you hadn't read On Writing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scratt
I don't think that aspect of creativity can necessarily be taught, or learned as a skill by anyone.
I disagree again. I don't think you can learn how to get better ideas, necessarily, but you learn how to be a better idea-getter. "The secret to having good ideas is to have lots of ideas," and all that. I think a lot of the time people quash their own creativity, and you can at least learn how not to do that. Likewise, it is possible to build a corporate culture that is better-suited to creative thinking. You just remove the blocks.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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scratt
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2010-03-17, 03:31

Interesting. I have not read "On Writing", but I will do so now I know about it.

I love a lot of Steven King's stuff. What he does is exactly what you describe. Take small component ideas and embellish them. Albeit with great creativity.

But, I really feel what you are describing is just one form of "creativity". Taking another example we can both relate to to illustrate your argument again: Apple, it's GUI and Xerox. Certainly Apple took a great idea, ran with it "creatively" and embellished it.

That is a form of connecting dots, or connecting existing ideas as you say.

But when we look at other forms of art, then creativity is about original thinking, or simply being "out there". Byron for example? Dali? This kind of "talent" or "creativity" not even necessarily recognised universally as talent initially. Quite often, not until many years later. Typically it comes from creative processes linked to the persons own individual psyche. And also quite often enhanced or embellished by drug use.

It's been said that there are only really a finite amount of stories in the world. I can't remember the exact number, but it's something like 4. And any story ever written is just another version of a "Love Story", or another genre.

So in that sense, yes a lot of creative work is derived. But where did those initial stories / ideas come from?

The truly rare and talented original thinkers are artists more than ideas people, and I don't think they are necessarily taught. It's in their genes. And there ideas come from their own emotions, ideas and observations. I guess you could argue that the things they see, and are influenced by, are those ideas that they derive things from, but that is taking it a little too far.

I'd include someone like Einstein in that category. He both derived ideas, and also came up with concepts no-one had ever though of before. I don't think being a scientist precludes you from being an artist either for that matter.

Leonardo is another example. Scientist, or artist? But certainly original thinker.

In the second quote you disagree with you seem to misunderstand my point. I am saying that you can't teach the kind of creativity I am talking about. Whereas you can teach someone to do your kind of creativity IMO.

'Remember, measure life by the moments that take your breath away, not by how many breaths you take'
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PB PM
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2010-03-17, 04:13

I agree with both of you, somewhat, and here is why.

Some of the most creative things that I have done came out of nowhere. I didn't think about it, I just did it. For example, if I am taking a photo, I will think about compositional rules at the start of the process, but more often than not, throw them away, or modify them on the fly without too much thought at all. Another example, I was using a tool, which will remain unnamed in case I can develop it at some point, and thought, wow it would be great if the tool could do this, without that happening. Now that is taking an existing tool and modifying it, but I didn't really think of it, it just kind of came to me.
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jdcfsu
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2010-03-17, 11:36

Quote:
Originally Posted by scratt View Post
What you seem to be talking about is applied intelligence, problem solving, and pattern matching. All cool things, and all certainly part of the creative process.
But this is the point of the article, that we should change our definition of creativity to honor these things that we do that actually do involve creative process. I think Robo's "connect the dots" example is wonderful as it does take true creativity to realize that you need to go outside the pre-defined box to solve the puzzle.

I was recently at a conference and there was a class I took on tapping creativity. And no, Robo, it wasn't one of those cheesy business seminar things. It was talking about the things you've outlined here, most importantly putting two things that already exist together.

As an example he gave us each a balloon and a penny. Two things that don't really go together, but when you put the penny in the balloon and then blow the balloon up, you've got a pretty cool toy showing off centripetal force. It was mesmerizing and it only works with a penny. Another example would be mentos and diet coke. Or the Wright Brother's first "airplane" which was really a bicycle with wings. Or helicopters based on hummingbirds ability to hover. The examples are endless.

Just because we're not coming up with the next great work of fiction/painting/etc doesn't mean we're not creative. Most of us are creative every single day of our lives but we aren't given or don't give ourselves credit for it. The article's point, and one I think is valid, is that we need to reshape our idea of creativity to embrace this important nuance.

90% of statistics can be made to say anything 50% of the time.
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ezkcdude
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2010-03-17, 11:49

As a professor, I try to instill in my students that their most important contributions come from being creative - that is, generating new ideas. Whatever form they eventually take, creativity is invention of new ideas. And in our everyday lives, we can be more creative simply by thinking for ourselves, developing new ideas, and not simply regurgitating old ones.
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scratt
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2010-03-17, 22:20

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdcfsu View Post
But this is the point of the article, that we should change our definition of creativity to honor these things that we do that actually do involve creative process. I think Robo's "connect the dots" example is wonderful as it does take true creativity to realize that you need to go outside the pre-defined box to solve the puzzle.
I think we are basically on the same page. My difference of opinion with Robo was when he said this:

Quote:
Creativity isn't actually creating something. It's just connecting the dots. Nothing more, nothing less.
It's very glib and does exactly what you say we shouldn't do below, but to a different group. It says that creativity is *just* connecting the dots. That is wrong IMO, as I said. It's part of it.... Sometimes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdcfsu View Post
Just because we're not coming up with the next great work of fiction/painting/etc doesn't mean we're not creative. Most of us are creative every single day of our lives but we aren't given or don't give ourselves credit for it. The article's point, and one I think is valid, is that we need to reshape our idea of creativity to embrace this important nuance.
This is where you lose me I am afraid.

/sarcasm

Yes, everyone is special. And every thought that everyone has is sacred. Love the way you pick your nose so creatively. Not like anyone else!

And noone is better than anyone else. We're all wonderful, and the world is full of butterflies!

Give yourself a pat on the back...

Now, buy this pack for $100 to tell you how to make your life even better than it already is!!
/sarcasm

'Remember, measure life by the moments that take your breath away, not by how many breaths you take'
Extreme Sports Cafe | ESC's blog | scratt's blog | @thescratt
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