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Today's Creative Whack: #77 Look Inside What's Your Creative Style?

“I searched into myself,” said the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. He felt that consulting one's own experience and intuition is a wonderful way to gain insight.

Unfortunately, some of us have never learned this lesson. Much of our educational system is an elaborate game of “guess what the teacher is thinking,” and we come to believe that the best ideas are in someone else's rather than our own.

Exercise: Take some time to figure out your own creative style, that is, identify what your own creative tendencies are.

Here are ten of my creative tendencies:

1. I get my ideas either when I’m under a lot of pressure“the ultimate inspiration is the deadline” — or when I’m away from the problem altogether. I rarely get them when I’m doing routine tasks that require some attention.

2. I try to pay attention to small things: how much frowning takes place in beer commercials, what sorts of patterns dead leaves make around a storm drain, and so on. I do this partly because I’ve trained myself to do it, but also because I’ve been forced to. I’m left-handed, but the world is designed for right-handed people — something most “righties” don’t even think about. I’m constantly being made conscious of how things are put together. For example, a lot of appliances are designed to make right-handed people feel comfortable and at ease, but lefties can sometimes feel clumsy using them.

3. If I’m mentally blocked in trying to solve a problem, it’s usually because I’m in love with a particular idea — so much so that it prevents me from looking for alternatives. Only when I force myself to become detached from it and “kiss it goodbye” do I find new answers. Letting go of a previously cherished idea can be one of life’s great pleasures.

4. My own ego can prevent me from discovering new things. However, if I allow myself to lower my resistance to those ideas that I typically dismiss as irrelevant or unattractive, I find that they can become doorways to solutions I’ve been overlooking.

5. I don’t know what I don’t know. I’ve got a big blind spot, and the only way to get access to what’s lurking out there is to put myself in a humble, receptive frame of mind (not always easy to do) and ask others to point out what I’m not seeing.

6. A dose of ambiguity stimulates my imagination. When I’m confused about a situation, I’m more likely to consider unusual options and explanations that just might help me solve my problem. Confusion is disorienting, but I also know that it’s a sign I’m making progress.

7. I love metaphors! Their imagery lights up my mind. If given the choice between an in-depth analysis of a situation or a vivid metaphor for the same, I’ll usually opt for the latter. Indeed, some of my best ideas have started out as metaphors.

8. I like “playing the fool” as a means of stirring up my own and others’ thinking. I don’t mind making an “out of left field” comment to see what reaction it generates. Or asking the stupid question that nobody else seems to be asking.

9. Rejection of my work in the early phases of the creative process doesn’t bother me. I’m not afraid of taking one of my less than stellar ideas and asking complete strangers what they think of it. I find their responses frank and refreshing.

10. I look for inspiration in many different areas, but above all, I look for it in myself. I’ve found that a sense of myself has been vital to my success as a creative person. But I’ve also found that when my feelings of self-worth get carried to extremes, my judgment gets clouded, and I risk cutting myself off from that deep ocean of being that sustains me — and us all.

— What is your creative thinking style?
— What are your strengths and weaknesses?
John Haydon's profile photoRoger von Oech's profile photoBeth Kanter's profile photoRobyn McMaster's profile photo
Roger - This reminds my of Malcolm Gladwells book called "Blink"
This reminds of "researching your own practice" - doing a meta meta reflection on your processes or the discipline of paying attention. I do this everyday for 5 minutes everyday. It is a long time for self reflection - anything I'm trying to improve or gain more awareness about. Recently, I'm trying to improve my productivity - so I'm keeping a "to do" reflection journal and breaking down my process for production of writing, workshops, or presentations. That does include creative processes ....

I get my best ideas from drawing while listening to classical music. The discipline of slowing down and stepping away from the onslaught of online information.

I also get great ideas by responding to comments online - esp. in the hayday of blogging.

I also get ideas by visual stimulation ... when I get stuck, I go to Flickr and search on keywords and look at the resulting images and similar keywords for ideas.

I also use your cards a lot when I'm stuck. Sometimes, during my five minutes of daily reflection. I also do month long excursions into rereading books on creative thinking and actively apply the techniques. In addition to your book (I have a first edition I'm proud to admit), I go back to the techniques in Todd Siler's "Think Like A Genius" and "How To Think Like Leonardo DaVinci" -- I've also used some of DeBono's techniques.

I also mindmap other people's articles or posts -- using Buzan's methods -- and that often leads me to connections and ideas from other people and within myself.

My big weakness right now is distraction - and not focusing. Some of it is just information overload and trying to do too much - and getting scattered. Also, knocking off email is a real creativity killer - so I do it when I'm brain dead.
+Beth Kanter I also love classical music to stimulate my creativity. Nothing quite like a dose of the "Goldberg Variations" to get things going. I think I own 10 different versions.

It's nice to hear that you use the Creative Whack Pack. Thanks for the mention (blush).

How much of your "distraction" is Internet driven? How do you manage that?
+Roger von Oech A creative tendency I have is to keep a refreshed sense of "mission and meaning" in everything I do. Whether it's making legos with my son, working with clients, or just being a good neighbor.

Actualizing a sense of mission and meaning for me is about checking my perspective about the things I do. For example, I could be feeling grudgingly _"I don't really like this person, but I guess we have to get a along because we're neighbors", or I can choose to muster up a more valuable perspective: "How can I be a better neighbor so that we both can feel a deeper respect for each other, and be brighter to the people we'll meet throughout the day?" Notice how the question almost forces a more valuable (positive) perspective? With this refreshed perspective, I'm able to find creative (and often better) solutions to many things.
+Beth Kanter Very nice post, and it relates to some things I've been thinking about lately. I've bookmarked the Ben Fullerton video on solitude and will watch it later.
BTW, my favor Goldberg variations recording is Glenn Gould, despite the grunting. I also like Mozart piano sonatas - use that for the organizing part of the creative process - categorizing. For brainstorm or flow - use romantic violin music - nothing like Sarasate or Franck to get the creative juices flowing
Taking a look inside helps us to quiet down, isolate ourselves from the noise a few moments to examine what creative tendencies surfaces is good just to refresh and rekindle. I'm interested to hear how your creative tendencies surfaced. Recently they came to me in sort of poetic fashion, but it can vary.
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