A crash course on creative thinking

sawyerAfter introducing eight “powerful, surprisingly simple” steps to creativity, Keith Sawyer observes in Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity: “Exceptional creators often zig zag through all eight steps, in varying order, every day. That’s part of the secret. because the steps work together to generate successful creativity. Each step feeds the other seven.” I presume to add, each step can also [begin italics] activate [end italics] another step in the sequence.

Long ago, thanks to a Dudley Crafts Watson Scholarship Fund for public school students in Chicago, I was able to take classes at the Art Institute while in grades 5-12. Guest artists and art historians favored different creative approaches and suggested different steps in the process but all agreed that it is seldom (if ever) linear, and, as Sawyer affirms, is proactive rather than reactive. This was confirmed by what I later learned while in college and then graduate school.

In my opinion, these are among the key passages:

o Find the [Right] Question, (26-36)
o Practice Deliberately (53-61)
o Use Fresh Eyes (78-88)
o Find the Right Box (116-125)
o Ideate (132-141)
o Force Fuse, and, Make Analogies (157- 167)
o Know What You’re Looking For (179-185
o Edit, Revise/Refine, and Improve (189-191)
o Draw It, Build It, and Reflect on It (201-205, 207-209, and 211-213)

I presume to add a few points of my own:

1. Start (most people just talk about it)
2. Assume nothing (especially what “they say”)
3. Be alert for anomalies (most people ignore them or don’t even recognize them)
4. Connect the right dots (or don’t connect any)
5. Meanwhile, keep in mind that all conclusions are working assumptions (learning should be constant and endless)

To paraphrase Henry Ford, whether you think you can be much more creative or convinced that you can’t, you’re probably right.

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To learn more about Keith, please click here.

To check out my interview of Keith, please click here.

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