Writing and the Creative Life: “Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking”
From Psychology Today:
1. You are creative.
2. Creative thinking is work.
3. You must go through the motions of being creative.
4. Your brain is not a computer.
5. There is no right answer.
6. Never stop with your first good idea.
7. Expect the experts to be negative.
8. Trust your instincts.
9. There is no such thing as failure.
10. You do not see things as they are; you see them as you are.
11. Always approach a problem on its own terms.
12. Learn to think unconventionally.
I think my two favorites are this:
There is no such thing as failure. Whenever you try to do something and do not succeed, you do not fail. You have learned something that does not work. Always ask “What have I learned about what doesn’t work?”, “Can this explain something that I didn’t set out to explain?”, and “What have I discovered that I didn’t set out to discover?” Whenever someone tells you that they have never made a mistake, you are talking to someone who has never tried anything new.
Learn to think unconventionally. Creative geniuses do not think analytically and logically. Conventional, logical, analytical thinkers are exclusive thinkers which means they exclude all information that is not related to the problem. They look for ways to eliminate possibilities. Creative geniuses are inclusive thinkers which mean they look for ways to include everything, including things that are dissimilar and totally unrelated. Generating associations and connections between unrelated or dissimilar subjects is how they provoke different thinking patterns in their brain. These new patterns lead to new connections which give them a different way to focus on the information and different ways to interpret what they are focusing on. This is how original and truly novel ideas are created. Albert Einstein once famously remarked “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
And then this summary:
Creativity is paradoxical. To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing as information incubates, must create many ideas yet most of them are useless, must look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different, must desire success but embrace failure, must be persistent but not stubborn, and must listen to experts but know how to disregard them.
The thing about creative writing: We’re not dealing with widgets, rather we’re pilgrims in a universe infused with mystery. As desperately as we may want to believe there is some foolproof routine or all-knowing system to write a great story, the truth is writers are wranglers of magic.
And that’s the way it should be, at least in terms of being authentically creative, perhaps nowhere more than screenwriting. Anybody can write a formulaic script. It’s only writers who go into their story and engage their characters within the context of their story universe as organic, alive and real entities with their own back-stories, personalities, wants, needs, fears and so forth that we tap into the magic.
And so a toast, fellow pilgrim. May we commit ourselves each day to the ever-challenging task of engaging our Creative Self in order to Wrangle the Magic!
For more of the Psychology Today article, go here.
[Originally published February 20, 2014]
Writing and the Creative Life: “Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking… was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.Writing and the Creative Life: “Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking…