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"A person might be able to play without being creative, but he sure can't be creative without playing." - Kurt Hanks
So, now you know how to get into the open mode, the only other requirement is that you keep mind gently 'round the subject you're pondering.
You'll daydream, of course, but you just keep bringing your mind back, just like with meditation. Because, and this is the extraordinary thing about creativity, if you just keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious, probably in the shower later. Or at breakfast the next morning, but suddenly you are rewarded, out of the blue a new thought mysteriously appears. If you've put in the pondering time first.
Play with people you trust:
I think it's easy to be creative if you've got other people to play with. I always find that if two (or more) of us throw ideas backwards and forwards I get to more interesting and original places than I could have ever have gotten to on my own. But there is a danger, a real danger, if there's one person around you who makes you feel defensive, you lose the confidence to play, and it's goodbye creativity.
So always make sure your play friends are people that you like and trust. Be a good play friend too. And never say anything to squash them either, never say "no" or "wrong" or "I don't like that." Always be positive, and build on what is being said:
"Would it be even better if…"
"I don't quite understand that, can you just explain it again?"
Try to establish as free an atmosphere as possible. Sometimes I wonder if the success of the Japanese isn't partly due to their instinctive understanding of how to use groups creatively.
Westerners are often amazed at the unstructured nature of Japanese meetings but maybe it's just that very lack of structure, that absence of time pressure, that frees them to solve problems so creatively. And how clever of the Japanese sometimes to plan that un-structured-ness by, for example, insisting that the first people to give their views are the most junior, so that they can speak freely without the possibility of contradicting what's already been said by somebody more important.
Creativity is when two frameworks come together to create new meaning:
The very last thing that I can say about creativity is this: it's like humor. In a joke, the laugh comes at a moment when you connect two different frameworks of reference in a new way.
Example: there's the old story about a woman doing a survey into sexual attitudes who stops an airline pilot and asks him, amongst other things, when he last had sexual intercourse. He replies "Nineteen fifty eight." Now, knowing airline pilots, the researcher is surprised, and queries this. "Well," says the pilot, "it's only twenty-one ten now."
We laugh, eventually, at the moment of contact between two frameworks of reference: the way we express what year it is and the 24-hour clock.
Now, having an idea, a new idea, is exactly the same thing. It's connecting two hitherto separate ideas in a way that generates new meaning.
Now, connecting different ideas isn't difficult, you can connect cheese with motorcycles or moral courage with light green, or bananas with international cooperation. You can get any computer to make a billion random connection for you, but these new connections or juxtapositions are significant only if they generate new meaning.
So as you play you can deliberately try inventing these random juxtapositions, and then use your intuition to tell you whether any of them seem to have significance for you. That's the bit the computer can't do. It can produce millions of new connections, but it can't tell which one smells interesting.
And, of course, you'll produce some juxtapositions which are absolutely ridiculous, absurd. Good for you!
Because Edward de Bono (who invented the notion of lateral thinking) specifically suggests in his book PO: Beyond Yes and No that you can try loosening up your assumptions by playing with deliberately crazy connections. He calls such absurd ideas "Intermediate Impossibles."
And he points out the use of an Intermediate Impossible is completely contrary to ordinary logical thinking in which you have to be right at each stage.
It doesn't matter if the Intermediate Impossible is right or absurd, it can nevertheless be used as a stepping stone to another idea that is right. Another example of how, when you're playing, nothing is wrong.
So, to summarize: if you really don't know how to start, or if you got stuck, start generating random connections, and allow your intuition to tell you if one might lead somewhere interesting.
”I don’t really look at other people’s photographs at all. It takes enough time to look at my own.” – William Eggelston
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