Tag Archives: creativity

What's in the box?

a box coverend in blue velvet, with gold colored metal framework and closure

Does anyone own the box? Where did it come from? Where was it found? Who made it?

Now go play. Give yourself 10-15 minutes. Write or doodle whatever comes to mind. It does not need to be "finished" or "perfect", just get the ideas out and play.

What is this? I'd like to offer up an opportunity to play and just let your mind wander.
Please enjoy.

cover of "A Technique for Producing Ideas", by James Webb Young, published by The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2003In continuing to follow my curiosity about creativity, I read "A Technique for Producing Ideas" by James Webb Young, published by The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2003.

It's a very thin book but he gets to the point rather quickly: how to create ideas. His thoughts on the process of creating seems to stem mostly from his experience in advertising but I think it translates well to the general idea making process.

A lot of it has to do with finding new relationships of old bits of information.

He proposes 5 steps.

  • information gathering, both specific and general, and sorting the information.
  • think through the problem and the information you gathered
  • let it all "incubate" in the back of your mind while you go do something else
  • appearance of the idea
  • work with the idea so it becomes practical to the problem at hand

He goes into greater detail in the book about the various steps as well as some interesting thoughts about how to get ideas in general.

Personally, I think I need to do a bit more gathering of general raw material by just following my curiosity on whatever I want. I also think I need to do a bit more of step 3. I tend to chew on a problem and work at it till something happens. Maybe setting it aside and letting the information and my thoughts settle would be beneficial.

This book is a pretty quick read (about 47 pages). If I remember correctly, I found my copy used because I wasn't so sure it was worth the full cover price of $10. I'm still not so sure about that so I'll let you decide. However, I do think it was worth taking the time to read it.

mitzuk-spaceshipIn my exploration of creativity I decided to read "Orbiting the Giant Hairball, A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving with Grace", by Gordon MacKenzie. He describes the hairball as the rules, procedures, and methods that get developed in organizations. Something worked well once so it gets used as a template for future work. One reason is because it feels safe, it's familiar ground.

One takeaway for me is the idea of my own "hairball" (more questions than answers at the moment). What are some ways I've created my own methods and rules? What are some ways I can use that as framework or a starting point and allow myself to break free of the gravitational pull of that hairball in a spaceship of a different kind?

What color is your spaceship?

P.S. if you're looking for a book the get you thinking about things in a different way, this might be for you https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/100469.Orbiting_the_Giant_Hairball

photo of ornage and black butterfly on sidewalk by christine mitzuk
Butterfly I saw on somewhere in Iowa our way back from Kansas City, MO.

MidAmeriCon 2 (WorldCon 2016) has come and gone. I had a lot of great experiences and conversations.

One such experience was a conversation I had with a wonderful jewelry artist and writer. I asked her a bit about her creative process (her piece titles are wonderfully evocative). One particular tidbit from that conversation keeps replaying in my mind, and I'm paraphrasing here, that we're reminded a lot of what we're struggling with so it's helpful to have a reminder of where we're headed, what we're striving for in our creative work. A talisman of sorts. Many writers feel inspired by a piece of hers and end up feeling propelled to create something from it. I also felt that from several of her pieces. I think this is something I'd like to explore. I'm not sure how yet and I think that's just part of the process.


I've been curious about creativity lately: where it comes from, stumbling blocks, how to develop it, how to sustain it, how it works in different disciplines.

First I heard about the concept of "creative confidence" through a TED Talk with David Kelly titled How to Build Your Creative Confidence.

You can also find an article on the Harvard Business Review website https://hbr.org/2012/12/reclaim-your-creative-confidence

A lot of people equate being creative to something reserved for art/music/theater. I like that Mr. Kelly talks about creative confidence in the broader sense of challenges, and solution finding, not only making pictures. I also like that instead of "problem solving" they have reframed the idea of "problem" as "challenge".

There's also a book out on the same topic "Creative Confidence" by brothers David and Tom Kelly. You might be able to do what I did and listen to it through your local library service. There were some excellent examples of creativity in action in science, medicine, and business. You can learn more about the book on their site http://www.creativeconfidence.com/

If you don't think you're creative, I encourage you to take another look. You might like what you find.