Tag Archives: Characteristics of Creativity

Creativity and Change

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Characteristics of Creativity

Whenever we discover new ways to see old things, or explore  life in a new direction, we inevitably have to let go of something.

Creativity requires us to change.

It’s like the moment a child starts play school and has to leave behind her teddy bear for the first time. She cannot imagine being without her old friend- she does not yet know the new friends she will make.

Of course, not all change is for the good- the thing you let go of may be better than the thing you find.

And so, with creativity and change, wisdom must be added to the mix. Being aware of the potential consequences of a creative pursuit will help in deciding whether or not to head down that road.

Image source:
http://www.schacommunitybenefits.org/stories.htm
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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

The Man and the Penny

I take no notice of him at first. He’s just a man in the busy coffee shop making his way toward the bathroom. But then, as he crosses in front of the counter, he bends down to pick up what appears to be a penny, and puts it in his pocket.

I’m staring now.

His clothes don’t fit quite right. His pants hang off him like they’re three sizes too big, the sleeves of his button-down shirt are rolled up past his elbows. His boots drag as he walks.

He had picked up a penny.

My friend asks if I’m paying attention to what she’s telling me about the fight she had with her boyfriend. “Yeah. Yeah, of course I am,” I re-focus.

A few minutes later I’m distracted again as the man walks back the other way and takes a seat in the corner.

He doesn’t have a drink or food, nor does he order anything the whole time we are there.

I wonder if I should buy him something. Would that be patronizing? Am I making stereotyped assumptions about who he is? What assumptions, exactly, am I making? Would he take offense to my offer? What would he think of my motives? What, indeed, would my motives be?

I can think myself out of anything.

As my friend and I get up to leave, I head to the counter and say to the girl ready to take my order, “You see that man over there? This should cover a large latte and a chocolate square for him. Please take it to him.”

We walk out. There is a shopping cart with empty bottles parked just outside the doors.

Image source:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/polarimetric/3139767284/

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Making the Connection

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Characteristics of Creativity

Ever have one of those moments when a thousand things you’ve been thinking about converge into one cohesive whole? I had one of those mind-crashing experiences while reading David Gauntlett’s site Making is Connecting, based on his book of the same title.
Nearly all of the concepts we’ve been discussing on this blog- like pouring creative energy into the small things of life, the value of handmade goods, the effect of our creative works on others, and using creative energy for the social good- all drew together into one single picture.
Mr. Gauntlett unites all these and other concepts under the banner of connection as the vital characteristic of creativity. He discusses the progression of connecting ideas or materials to each other to form something new, then connecting with other people on this something new, and finally, together with other people, connecting this something new to the world to tackle social problems and global issues.
I needed a moment to soak it all in.
It left me with clarity on defining my next steps: experimenting with connecting thoughts from this blog to actions in my ‘real’ life, reporting back to you online, and seeing how (hopefully) over time something materializes through this to tackle social or global issues.
There was only one concept from our discussions that was missing from Mr. Gauntlett’s single picture: the connection we have been exploring between creativity and the divine. However, I think these words from his book’s conclusion (posted on his site) can also be applied to the divine:
“…others may be able to sense the presence of the maker, in the thing… made- the unavoidably distinctive fingerprint that the thinking-and-making individual leaves on their work, which can foster a sense of shared feeling and common cause…” 
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For a phenomenal example of connecting a varied range of ideas to each other, see http://kateshrewsday.wordpress.com/ In each post she connects ideas as varied as migraines, IKEA, Wild West movies, and a pile of laundry into a wonderfully woven whole. 

Image source:
http://www.thinkwebdesigns.com/
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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

The Happiness Bubble

He lives in his own world, oblivious to the reactions of others and to the misery of the world. He has been this way since birth, always happy, living inside his own bubble. Someone dismisses him, he doesn’t notice; the news cries out rumors of wars, he merely shrugs his shoulders.

The disparity between his reactions and the natural response to circumstances worries his wife. She has never seen him angry or ever heard him complain. “Why can’t he be more like other husbands?” she asks her friends. “Why can’t my husband be more like yours?” they reply.

And then one day, the unthinkable happens- the entire political and economic world order collapses. Complete chaos ensues- food supply chains crumble, laws cease to exist, ownership no longer matters.

He walks down the street amidst screams of devastation and the thunder of gun shots.

He continues walking, a smile lighting on his face as he thinks how happy he is to be alive.  

Image source:
http://www.bebo.com/ 

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Necessity- the Mother of Invention

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Characteristics of Creativity

‘Necessity is the mother of all invention’, goes the saying- as far back as Plato. It suggests that if we need something badly enough, we’ll come up with a way to fill that need.
The site thereifixedit.com takes a humorous look at inventions (often quasi-inventions) that people have come up with to solve various problems.
One of my personal favourites is this picture:
 
That’s one way to solve the problem of driving an imported car that has the steering wheel on the wrong side! (Of course, I’m not endorsing this solution, just showing the photo.)
If our need is great enough, we’ll work at a solution long and hard until we find one.
I wonder if the reverse is also true- if there is something we want to do/create/invent badly enough, will we work long and hard to find the need it fills?
Image source:
http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Real Work

Jeff’s motto had always been “It ain’t real work unless you get your hands dirty.” His dad taught it to him, and he taught it to his kids. He made sure his kids, eight and ten years old, experienced the pride of building something, seeing the finished product they themselves had made.

January 4 was just like every other workday of the past twenty-some years. Jeff suited up and got ready to go to his welding bench with the other guys.

On this morning, though, his boss was waiting for him at the bench. “This came in for you from Head Office,” he told Jeff, handing him an envelope with the company logo embossed along the side.

Jeff raised his eyebrows, “Head office? What do those stuffed shirts want from me?” He grabbed the envelope and tore it open.

Eyes wide he blurted out, “You have got to be kidding me!”

“What?”

“What kind of prank are these guys pulling? It’s a job offer for VP of Sales and Marketing at Head Office. This some kind of joke?”

His boss grabbed the letter and read it for himself, “What the…”

Jeff spent the next half hour trying to sort out the situation with the HR department. He figured out that the letter was intended for a different Jeff Sampson and was sent to him in error. However, as the Manager of HR explained, they were extremely busy and it would take far too much time and fussing to straighten out. The best solution was, she explained, for Jeff to show up at Head Office on Monday to start his new job and settle in to it.

He could not believe what he heard.

The thought that plagued him most was how he was going to explain to his kids that he was now going to be a stuffed shirt who never got his hands dirty.

Image source
http://www.225steel.com/

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Thinking of Something Different

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Characteristics of Creativity

It has been said that one aspect of being creative is “seeing the same thing as everybody else, but thinking of something different.”
James Corbett of Queensland, Australia is definitely a “thinking of something different” kind of guy.
As the owner of an auto parts recycling business, James saw spark plugs, exhaust pipes, gears, and radiators day in and day out. But one day, he began thinking of them as something different- as pieces of uncreated sculptures.
And he decided to play. He looked for exactly the right pieces and, without altering their structure in any way, began welding them together into artwork. His creations were so well received that, a little over a year later, he became a full-time assemblage artist.
James has been selling his unique sculptures all over the world for the past ten years now and is doing the work he loves.
It all started with thinking in an entirely different way about the things he’d seen for years.
What in your life can you think of in a different way?
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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

The Ticket

He is like so many others who have come here from far away. He was a doctor/lawyer/architect/insert highly esteemed professional title in his home country- and is a cab driver/convenience store clerk/caretaker/insert minimum wage/minimum esteem job title here. They let him in to our country because of his qualifications, we keep him out of our job market because he is from somewhere else.

He has been here a few years now, his hopes for a better life for himself transferred instead to his son.

*       *       *

Another customer leaves, without bothering to acknowledge his existence. He finishes his shift and heads for home.

He doesn’t know that his son has, on a whim, bought him a lottery ticket for next week’s $42 million dollar jackpot.

He doesn’t know that it’s the winning ticket.

Over and over he had vowed that if he ever made it in this country, he would start his own company and give people in his situation the chance they had come here to find.

He doesn’t know that tonight he could have his wish.

He doesn’t know that tomorrow he will misplace the ticket and never know what might have been.

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The Methodical Side of Creativity

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Characteristics of Creativity

Lest we characterize the ideal creative as an eccentric artist with disheveled hair and a penchant for mismatched socks, let us consider the methodical side of creativity.
Leonardo da Vinci, the quintessential artist and inventor, was incredibly logical and scientific in his thinking. He was a keen observer, detailing findings of empirical studies in his notebooks, and working out complex designs of everything from solar energy to helicopters. 
His careful study of light, human behaviour, and anatomy contributed to the genius of his greatest works like the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.
Without the hours and hours of pouring over monotonous, detailed data, he would not have been able to produce his seemingly effortless creations.
Creative branches often grow from methodical roots.
Image source 

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

The Look

She holds her head low, gaze fixed on the ground. Something about the way she moves makes me turn her way. For a split second I see a big, black hole in the side of her head. I blink and realize it’s only dark, hanging bangs.

As she passes me, she jerks her head, as if sensing someone watching her. A flash of iridescent green eyes pierce mine and a high-pitched frequency fills my ears. I try to scream, but make no sound.

She looks away and keeps walking, head down. The ringing stops abruptly.

I spin on my heels and run towards her. Without turning, she bolts away. I yell out, “Stop- you with the green eyes! Stop!”

She runs faster, pushing people out of the way. Her heal lodges in a sewer grate, crashing her to the ground. I pounce and grab for her shoulder but catch only her long black bangs. My arm is locked, powerless. Like a steel trap, her bangs retract into her head, pulling me in with them. Everything goes black.

Two iridescent green dots grow from the blackness and hover in front of my face. A hollow voice whispers all around me, “Welcome, inquisitive stranger. You are now one of us- the Catchers of the Curious.”

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What if…

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Characteristics of Creativity

As a child I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books. Every few pages I was given a choice like “Go fight the beasts or run in the opposite direction.” I would then turn to the page corresponding to what I had chosen and find out what happened next. I suppose it was the very rudimentary precursor to video games. Perhaps I’m dating myself too much…
In any case, it was a wonderful way to consider ‘what ifs’. What if I chose to go after the buried treasure, or jump into the pirates’ ship, or crawl into the trolls’ den? Being able to explore possibilities and imagine different outcomes were the real rewards of the journey.
But at some point I turned away from imagining ‘what if’. Perhaps it happened gradually and that’s why I can’t pinpoint the moment. Somehow the ‘what ifs’ turned into real life ‘adventures’ like finding a bargain at the second-hand store, or jumping into the supermarket line-up at just the right time. Ho-hum.
And so, I’ve decided to bring back this kind of imagination into my life this week in the 4 Minute Writer section. I’ll be creating ‘what if’ stories triggered by moments I chance upon throughout the week.
Maybe I’ll see a man in strange attire and wonder “What if he’s headed to a convention of spies?”
Maybe I’ll catch an elderly lady smiling knowingly at a bird and think “What if she’s found the blue bird of happiness?”
What if creating these stories will allow me to imagine a different ‘what if’ for my real life?   
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