Paths to Creativity

First, lets get rid of a myth: Originality is dead.The urge/push to be original stops many people cold in their pursuit of creativity…me including. I have avoided publishing anything because I look around and see that everything I could possibly have to say has already been said so why bother.  Originality, though, is over rated.  In reality, when looking at the art world, for instance, how many landscapes do we see in museums? How many photographs of sunsets are published everyday? how many cute cats are there in the world? Yet, we still paint landscapes, take sunset photographs and admire yet another cute cat on the web or on our calendar.

Since human evolution, and therefore, our evolution has been cumulative we hang things on a basic scaffolding that keeps getting more elaborate, adopts different angles and embellishment, and expands in every direction with additions that each of us contribute to it. So, I will boldly proclaim (I am sure I am not alone in this) that there are no original ideas.  I recommend  this particular lecture to make the point.

So if originality is dead how do we come up with new ideas?  There are three ways:

Reconstructive:  We combine old ideas into new formulations

Explorative: We imagine possibilities and pursue making them real.

Exploitative or Accidental: We exploit existing chance occurrences. 

These are not distinct paths. Actually, creativity is often the combination of all three and starts with one and leads to the other two. See the Venn graph below.

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So lets start with an example of Reconstructive Process:

 What is a Drapple? Don’t know? 

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Well, here you are

Well, here you are

Did a Drapple ever exist before? Not until it was created here. Now that it has been created from two old concepts its a perfectly acceptable object. This is true of anything you can imagine: Phone+Music Player? iPhone. Look around at every old innovation and you will see a similar combination of objects and/or functions as part of the creative process.

Here are two examples of distinctly different combinations of the same two “objects”

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What I encourage you to do is think of different ways these combinations are present in your life and share them with me and the rest of our readers. Have you combined things in innovative ways? Two food items that don’t go together normally that turned out great? I would love to hear of you experiences.

Next time we explore Exploitative Process.