In my sewing room I have a cornucopia pincushion spilling the letters C-R-E-A-T-E. That’s how I feel about sewing. It’s also how I feel about writing. In fact, creativity is something that is limitless and it doesn’t cost much, either. Almost every day, something new is written about creativity. For example, I once used The Artist’s Way to improve my writing. The method is good for any artistic endeavor, but it required writing three pages a day. Some days those three pages would take an hour. (This is not possible with three kids and two jobs, so this had to take place at a latter decade in my life.) Almost invariably, when I got the junk out of my brain by writing it down, other ideas were able to flow more freely. Often on the second page, something significant would jump out at me. I began to see that writing every day makes my writing better and reveals to me some hidden aspects of my psyche. I think the best art is a partnership between the id and the ego.
A new book by Michael Pollan describes his experiences with psychedelic drugs, which he calls medicine. He described his hallucinations as the melting away of the ego. Used with those facing death or experiencing depression, there has been some success in helping those people achieve peace. His book is called Change Your Mind. You can hear Timothy Leary describe a psychedelic experience on YouTube.
It is possible, though, to change your mind without the aid of such drugs. I learned meditation in a yoga class in Urbana, Illinois. Getting quiet and clearing your mind of all clutter often allows ideas to float up into consciousness. Choosing an object and focusing on it can also help clear the mind. One meditation I still remember is to stare at a candle flame. When you close your eyes, the flame is still there. Trying harder to see it makes it disappear. Relaxing and allowing it to shine will help the image last longer. Getting sidetracked by an idea makes it disappear immediately. Brain training.
Lumosity is described as a brain-training program. It works on attention, long- and short-term memory, auditory processing, processing speed, and/or logic & reasoning. Creativity is not listed. It is harder to encourage a skill when there are many answers. Brainstorming is a skill that can be taught, however, and it essential to the creative process. Some simple brainstorm rules are (1)
- Defer judgement.
- Encourage wild ideas.
- Build on the ideas of others.
- Stay focused on the topic.
- One conversation at a time.
- Be visual.
- Go for quantity.
You know you are in a group of creative people when they listen to your ideas and don’t criticize them immediately. If you’ve had the frustrating experience of “brainstorming” with people who don’t know how, you’ll know how limiting it is. I have heard that early Apple Computer pioneers were to take two unrelated objects and find the connections between them —hence the mouse.
How can an individual brainstorm?
1.Take an idea. Make a word web (2). Which words are important to you? Which ones can you leave out without changing the main thrust of the idea? Which ones are ideas you hadn’t thought of before?
2. Take two objects. Describe what they have in common and what is different about them. What do you know about them and their history, i.e., scissors and Rubric cubes? How have they impacted your life? What will the scissors of the future look like? The Rubric cubes?
3. Dig out three pictures of yourself at other ages. What was most important to you then? What is most important to you now?
4. Make a list of everything in one room of your house. How do those objects reflect your personality?
5. Type in a word in a search engine and then choose the Images link.
(1) Effective Brainstorming Techniques, 2018, https://www.ideou.com/pages/brainstorming, accessed 5/18/18.
(2)Reading Horizons, How to Make a Word Web, https://www.readinghorizons.com/documents/community/vocab-word-webs.pdf, accessed 5/18/18.