A few years ago, a friend of mine looked at my calculator (a high school grade one) and remarked:
“You know Albert, that calculator you have in your hand is more powerful that the computer that put the first man on the moon.”
I was close to dumb-struck. I had barely moved my grades higher than my nose with it while “less fortunate” fellows saw new horizons!
So you could tell he had my attention. And now I hope I equally have yours. But there is so much more to this story.
You might have noticed that the convenience of having all this assistance can work against your ability (and willingness) to engage critically with ideas, riddles, and other thinking tasks. Why would you when you could just Google it?
Here, though, is the problem.
Just as with the illustration my friend made, what he outlined to me was that whereas I viewed my calculator as an aid, he showed me that I should look specifically as a tool. This tool could do no more than what I purposed it to do. I had imposed limits on it and it would serve me only as far as I was willing to take those limits.
So very recently I applied that approach to my writing. After spending the better part of 2 hours staring at my computer screen running mindless searches, I decided to take a 30-minute pen and paper break to generate a content outline.
Within 10 or so minutes, I had outlined the general structure for this very article, and so many other interesting nuggets came out that I shall have to cover those elements in a subsequent post. What a return on time invested: 10 minutes in silence for what I had failed to do in 2 hours! I wonder how many others out there have had a similar bite?
The creative process highlighted.
I found these to be key features of the flow that happens when you unplug from tools and free your creative human element. These do not necessarily happen chronologically and at times its feels like a chaos run of thought. Do not let that hinder you. You can always connect the dots later, but don’t block them from falling on the page in the first place.
- Ideas & insight
IDEAS & INSIGHT
Start by writing random words on a blank sheet of paper. It may seem silly at the start, but soon you shall start seeing connections and patterns to what you are writing. At this point, your INSIGHT develops. This is where statements begin to mean something to you even though they might seem unrelated at first. The words “Milk” and “Sand” that you wrote may make you think of some place you visited, or inspire a recipe of some sort. This shall vary with all your diverse interests, but once you begin the process of creation, unknown things begin to be a reality.
This is where you followup that strange train of thought. Say our word example “MILK+SAND” reminded you of a pleasure visit to the ranch at your granny’s? Write out what you felt, or what insight it brought to you. Did it bring a tune you once sang with her? Hum it out.
At this stage, just follow what is coming out to you. By this, you are exercising your creative freedom and stepping out of the conformal “I won’t rock the boat” mode.
What if all this comes to nothing?
Some of these processes shall seem very fruitless I must say. But notice that you have these channels open again, you can now recognise when you are being creative and cease to be afraid of it. It shall feel more natural, and you shall get better at it too.
Here is where you get your more conservative side comes out to evaluate what good (and queer) you have been up to. Hopefully here is where you say:
“Hang on, I am not going to actually make a sand and milk smoothie, am I?”
Here I would agree with you. The compost heap outside may like it but it may not do you much good.
The review stage is where you filter out the bizarre, the obviously right, and those moments of genius too.
Here is where you take action with your idea, now concept. Write about it, do it, design it. This is where your cell-sized creativity has grown into a full-grown person and is ready to take a walk, a run, a flight to the moon.
So you too can do it!
It shall feel strange, but it might as well take you from staring at the moon to standing on it. If your fellows think you crazy, yes you are! So finish what you started so that they may truly appreciate how crazy your idea was!