Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More Imagining

So now I'm prepared not to like the rest of the book. I found something I didn't agree with. BUT you know, I kept reading and I'm liking it again!

I like all the stories he tells about the different companies and what they do to stay creative.

He talks about how brainstorming isn't really effective, because of the most important principle – the absence of criticism. You know, so everyone can contribute without feeling judges. The problem with that is that you have a group of people all shouting out every idea they can think of with no one ever saying things like, that might not work, or challenging or debating it in some way. 

He talks about how the only way to 'maximize group creativity...is to encourage a candid discussion of mistakes (159.)" I don't think you need to be mean, but you should be able to have a discussion about what's good and what's bad. "...when everybody is 'right' –when all new ideas are equally useful, as in a brainstorming session – we stay within ourselves. There is no incentive to think about someone else's thoughts or embrace unfamiliar possibilities. And so the problem remains impossible. The absence of criticism has kept us all in the same place (161.)"

I know from my very own experience, when someone has told me that they didn't like something I made or thought I could have done it differently... I don't always like what they said in the moment. But I spend the rest of the day, in the back of my mind, thinking about it and trying to figure out how to do it better. So instead of them trying to be nice and saying that they like something when they don't, doesn't really help me. I want to do better and a lot of the time you have to be able to step out of yourself to see how that can be done. Sometimes being uncomfortable helps you to grow.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Imagine Chapter 3 – The Unconcealing

He starts to lose me a little bit in Chapter 3. I like the part where he reminds you that creativity is a verb. It's good to have that insight, but to turn that idea into something real takes a lot of sweat, boredom, failure, and a lot of work. I experience this almost every time I got to work in my shop. I start working, then I think of about 20 other 'really important' things I need to do... get the mail, pull some weeds, load the dishwasher, wash some clothes,... the list is endless and they do need to be done, but in this instance I am just using them as a distraction. I have the idea, but I don't really want to cut out all of these boring shapes int he hopes that I can construct them into something beautiful. BUT if I ignore the thoughts in my head and work through them, I get caught up in what I'm doing and start enjoying the process.

The part of Chapter 3 that I didn't like, didn't agree with... was the part where he investigates the link between negative moods and creativity. It comes down to the suffering artist syndrome. How really great artists are depressed and bi-polar. He shows studies that reflect that thinking. Well, I think that you can take any profession and find a good percentage of people that are bi-polar or depressed, not just artists. I've just heard this all my life about all these famous artists being so intensely disturbed. But I'm thinking that maybe all great artists are disturbed because the art critics and media that made them famous are the ones who are disturbed! 

So leave me a comment, do you think you have to be depressed or bi-polar or disturbed in order to make great art?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

More To Imagine

So I'm on Chapter 2 Alpha Waves (Condition Blue) pages 25-43. This is only the first half of chapter 2, remember I'm taking this slowly!

     He mentions a few monumental creations and how they thought of them. The major one being the story about the guy who created masking tape. Oh, the things we take for granted! And then he talks about The Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, better known as 3M. (Which is where the masking tape inventor worked, selling sandpaper.) This company currently sells more than 55,000 different products. They have developed a few essential things about creativity.

  1. Flexible attention policy – They don't insist on constant concentration for 8 hours a day, they encourage people to make time for activities that may seem unproductive, like taking a walk, lying down on a couch by a sunny window, daydream, play pinball...
  2. The 15% rule – 15% of the workday can be spent pursuing speculative new ideas. Only requirement is they have to share these ideas with their co-workers. Google also use this technique.
Basically, relaxation  or a relaxed state of mind helps us direct the spotlight of attention inward towards the right brain. When we are really focused, our attention tends to be directed outward, which keeps us from those insightful moments. It's like we have all these answers in us, we just need to listen.

I find I get a lot of insightful ideas when I just wake up in the morning and can just lay in bed for awhile. A lot of the time, I get so many ideas that they make get up out of bed without even thinking so I can go and get started on them – as long as I'm not too distracted along the way!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Review – Imagine – Part 1

So my friend, Rebecca, recommended this book called Imagine by Jonah Lehrer, basically about the science of creativity. I'm only on page 19, but I love it! So I thought I'd read it slowly and blog about what I find interesting along the way.

     In chapter 1, Bob Dylan's Brain, he talks about how people have ideas and then all of a sudden they can't think about what to do next... creativity has left the house. 

     Lehrer talks about how creative journeys 'begin with a problem' which usually moves on to a feeling of frustration and just not being able to find the answer, you hit that brick wall. And you quit. I'm pretty familiar with this process! However, what we usually don't hear about is how this 'process'  this 'act of being stumped–is an essential part of the creative process.' It's like you have to completely give up, quit looking for the answer. And then all of a sudden the answer shows up.

     I've experienced this almost on a daily basis. I'll be talking with a friend... oh, did you see that movie the other night, you know the one with, uh, what's his name?
And I can't remember 'what's his name' at all, and the harder I try to remember his name, the more my brain blocks the process. Now this has happened often enough, that I know what to do. I stop trying to remember his name and move on. Then maybe 10 minutes or an hour or 3 hours later, completely out of nowhere, his name appears in my brain. Completely out of nowhere, did I say that already? It's as if I had been going through a file cabinet in my brain and it finally came across the right file.

     Well, Chapter 1, Bob Dylan's Brain, explains this phenomenon. And he goes as far as to show how it works, by using people, puzzles, fMRI's and EEG's.

     It comes from a burst of gamma rays and the discovery of "'neural correlate of insight' a small fold of tissue, located on the surface of the right hemisphere just above the ear, which becomes unusually active in the seconds before the epiphany."

     And that brings us up to page 19! Please leave a comment if you've experienced anything like this.

From the book, Imagine–How Creativity Works, Jonah Lehrer 2012