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?
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