Tuesday, July 25, 2006

How Do You Spark Your Creativity?

Nothing can be more frustrating, both from a business and an artistic standpoint, than suffering a creative block in the organization. Managers feel helpless, producers feel impotent, talent feels worthless. Its a question we get asked quite a bit, in fact. How do we keep it fresh? What do you do when your creatives get in a slump, and feel like they're in a rut? Or, worse yet, what if you are that creative?

Luckily, there are massive resources out there to assist everyone invloved at all levels of the creative process, from brainstorm to editting.

In the 1975 creative renaissance man Brian Eno released Oblique Strategies, a series of flash cards, each containing a phrase or word or idea that's meant to spark a new approach or fresh tack. Along these lines also comes the Idea a Day website, which though is pimping a book can still be helpful. For fans of the longer form, the options range from the sublime - The Artist's Way - to the ridiculous - How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. They deal with this kind of thing all the time in broadcasting, where being funny and creative must happen on very strict deadlines. Finally, I've always found it helpful to get advice from creatives outside my field. Though the tools we use are different, the method can be similar, and meta-technique is often identical. Along those lines, A Practical Handbook for the Actor has helped a great number of the copywriters, musicians, and visual artists I've lent it to.

Of course, maybe you just need to re-organize the way you think, and there's nothing like software to make that happen! FreeMind is a "mind-mapping software" that allows you to write new laws of metaphysics as easily as a bullet-point list. NovaMind is the Hanso Foundation-looking corporate version, though despite my joke is a poerful tool for recording non-linear, multi-valent, asynchronous thought processes in ways that the much hated "Dot Point" could never do. The new version of MS OneNote promises to completely reinvent the way we store information in our computers - and thus in our brain - or so say its blogging developpers. The open source version, Tomboy, naturally claims to be able to deliver even more dramatic mind-body-soul-computer realignments, and more efficiently to boot because they use fewer patents to get it done. And since we may as well continue this metaphor to its brutal conclustion, the Apple offering, DEVONthink, promises to completely supplant your brain with the superior Apple version. See also the intelligent search tool DEVONagent.

Then, of course, there is the high theory of creativity. I won't get into it here - this being a business website and all - but some find Dr. Edward de Bono's approach to creative thinking helpful when trying to kickstart inspiration. There are many who criticize his methods and his methodology, however. The Mycoted wiki is a wonderful repository for data and debate on creativity and problem solving, including practical technique and abstract theory.

How do you spark creativity?


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