This series of posts on “How To Be More Creative” offers articles, books and other resources on developing creative thinking and innovation, and enhancing our creative expression.
My other Creative Mind posts, hopefully, do that as well – but these new posts specifically provide brief excerpts of selected material by other authors that have a more “how to” flavor. Feel free to make any comments or suggestions.
by Gregory Ciotti
“Have you ever wished you were more creative? If you do creative work, have you ever suffered from a creative block and been stuck wondering what exactly is wrong, and how you can get yourself out of it?”
There are a number of examples of people bold enough and entrepreneurial enough to create and publish their own books, often leading to being traditionally published and marketed.
Christopher Paolini began writing “Eragon” at the age of 15 and his parents decided to self-publish the novel, which was re-published by Alfred A. Knopf.
“The Artist’s Way” began as a collection of “tips and hints from different artists and authors” by Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan. After it was turned down by literary agency William Morris, they self-published it and it was later published by Jeremy Tarcher (Penguin) in 1992.
The book was eventually put into the “Self-Publishing Hall of Fame” after “selling millions of copies worldwide.” [Wikipedia]
Author and personal development coach Tama Kieves self-published her first book “This Time I Dance!: Creating the Work You Love” and its level of popularity led to Tarcher/Penguin re-publishing new editions.
How can parents, educators and business leaders support people to become more creative, innovative and entrepreneurial?
“Innovation-minded parents encouraged their children’s play, passion and purpose.”
Tony Wagner is currently the first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard and the founder and former co-director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
The quote above is paraphrased from his article My View: Creating innovators, in which he notes that many people believe that “America’s economic future depends on more students taking courses in science, technology, engineering and math.”
“However,” he adds, “it is clear to me that the more important goal is for all students to graduate from high school or college ‘innovation-ready,’ and merely requiring students to take more of the same kinds of classes will not be adequate preparation.”
“People often avoid the uncomfortable uncertainty of novel solutions regardless of potential benefit.”
That quote comes from the Forbes magazine article Managing The Psychological Bias Against Creativity by Todd Essig, who notes the situation where “You come up with a great new idea at work, or at home.
“Or a political leader actually tries something ‘new and different’ when faced with a previously intractable problem. But then, rather than grateful acceptance, or even a fair hearing, the idea is squashed, ridiculed, or otherwise ignored.”
New research, he says, “empirically documents how our resistance to uncertainty makes the ‘old ways’ far stickier than they should be given the practical benefits of creative, new solutions.
“Once again, the biases built into our minds leave us simultaneously moving in opposite directions; we like creativity but avoid creative ideas because creative ideas are too, in a word, creative.”
Do we need to invest exceptional levels of time and attention in becoming experts before we can make significant creative contributions?
One of the key ideas of author Malcolm Gladwell is that “outliers” on the upper end of intelligence, ability and achievement have engaged in about 10,000 concentrated hours of practice and study in a specific knowledge area.
From my post Outliers and developing exceptional abilities.
Malcolm Gladwell is author of Outliers: The Story of Success.
But a new article by entrepreneur and philanthropist Naveen Jain, the founder of World Innovation Institute (among other credits) writes that while this may be “an interesting thesis” and perhaps true earlier, it may not apply “in today’s world of growing exponential technologies.”
Einstein was expelled from school for “undermining the authority of his teachers and being a disruptive influence.”
I was reminded of that item when reading the article Can Innovative Thinking Be Learned? (Forbes mag.), in which writer Erica Swallow lists several “disruptive innovators”: Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Pierre Omidyar, referring to the book “The Innovator’s DNA” – which fortunately also includes a number of women innovators.
She writes that they think and behave differently, and “possess a suite of skills that enable them to connect dots that the rest of us don’t usually perceive.”
Tom Kelley, general manager of award-winning industrial design firm, IDEO, writes about a common form of response to creative ideas in a “pivotal meeting where you push forward a new idea or proposal you’re passionate about.
“A fast-paced discussion leads to an upwelling of support that seems about to reach critical mass. And then, in one disastrous moment, your hopes are dashed when someone weighs in with those fateful words: ‘Let me just play Devil’s Advocate for a minute . . .’
Kelley notes the speaker “now feels entirely free to take potshots at your idea, and does so with complete impunity. Because they’re not really your harshest critic.
“They are essentially saying, ‘The Devil made me do it.’ They’re removing themselves from the equation and sidestepping individual responsibility for the verbal attack. But before they’re done, they’ve torched your fledgling concept.”
“Only one set of skills can ensure this generation’s economic future – the capacity for innovation.”
That quote comes from the website of the new book “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People That Will Change The World” by Tony Wagner, which declares that nurturing creative thinking is crucial and that “only one set of skills can ensure this generation’s economic future: the capacity for innovation.”
The book asks, “What do the best schools and colleges do to teach the skills of innovation? What are some of the most forward-looking employers doing to create a culture of innovation?”
In his review article, Jonathan Wai, Ph.D. notes he shares author Wagner’s interest “in what constitutes a meaningful science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.”
Wai writes that the book profiles five STEM innovators and three social innovators, and that “These stories are worth learning from and developing hypotheses from,” but warns “it is important to remember that the plural of anecdote is not data.”
He continues, “In addition, the STEM innovators he profiles are very much entrepreneurs.
Executive Director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Tina Seelig, PhD also teaches courses on creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
In her post Seeing Your World in TechniColor in her blog CreativityRulz, she writes about one way to enhance creativity: Paying more careful attention to our environment, which, she notes, “actually takes some effort.”
“Most people see the world in black and white, missing most of the opportunities in their midst.
“They travel down the same routes day after day. The path is so familiar that they can practically navigate it in their sleep.
“But, there are some people who see the world in Technicolor.
“There is a myth, common in American culture, that work and play are entirely separate activities. I believe they are more entwined than ever before.”
Laura Seargeant Richardson, a principal designer at global innovation firm frog design, continues: “A playful mind thrives on ambiguity, complexity, and improvisation—the very things needed to innovate and come up with creative solutions to the massive global challenges in economics, the environment, education, and more.”
From my post Creative Development: Actively Caress Wonder. Play.
Creative endeavors often start small.
One of a number of articles about him notes that “Nine-year-old Caine Monroy spent last summer creating an elaborate cardboard arcade in his dad’s used auto parts store in east Los Angeles, armed with little more than packaging tape and whatever materials he could find.