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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy or Hungover: What May (or May Not) Help Your Creativity

I read with interest about a study that says people are more likely to come up with a creative idea if they felt happy the day before, and then they feel happy when they are creative. Which, because they are happy makes them more likely to come up with a creative idea, etc...

The finding seems to contradict all those who insist they have to have a deadline to come up with an idea. How can you be happy if you're stressed out over a deadline? What if you've had a really bad day the day before your boss is waiting to hear your brilliant idea? And, if you're not one of those perennially perky people, will you ever be creative?

Contrast this with another article I read recently which said that writers such as Cheever and Hemingway wrote when they were hungover and the article implied that this contributed to their brilliant storytelling. Granted during the 1960s and 1970s drug-fueled songs and art were produced and there could have been some masterpieces amongst them.

Bottom line is you shouldn't depend on any chemical reactions to force your creativity. Not good for your health or soul. And while I like the idea that happy equals innovation you can't wait until you're happy in order to be productive. Get into the habit of using ideation methods daily and your idea quota will automatically increase.

And the more ideas you produce, the more likely one or more will be just what you need.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sparking Creativity-The Wall Street Journal Approach

I don't normally associate Wall Street Journal with in-depth articles on creativity, but now and then I get surprised.

A recent article entitled "Tactics to Spark Creativity" caught my eye and unlike many of the inane and overly simplistic "how-to" articles you find online nowadays, the article is well-researched and worth the read. It begins:

Why is it that some people rack their brains for new ideas, only to come up empty—while others seem to shake them almost effortlessly out of their sleeves?

Whether creativity is an innate gift or a cognitive process that anyone can jump-start is a question so intriguing that researchers keep studying it from different angles and discovering new and surprising techniques.

As it goes with serendipity, I happened to watch a video online regarding the "designing mind" and one of the interviewees said, "many of the techniques we teach here are over 40 years old." Unlike the article, the people in the video seemed to be saying that there's nothing new, just variations on the old stuff.

Certainly many authors and innovation experts like to come up with their own models for creativity and creativity processes. One of my favorites coined the phrase "stage gate" where all the many ideas you have swim up to the dam and can't move forward unless you examine them and help them "through the gate."

As with any other readings, what you get out of it is up to you. I have the best visual, courtesy of a quote towards the end of the article:

"you have to be able to float through your environment with your antennae up, like a butterfly, and just let things ping your antennae."

Read the entire WSJ article here.