Ideas to Ignite Your Creative Fires (July 2021)
Welcome to our July issue. I received several positive reviews about the June edition and want to thank everyone who commented on the content. My intent is to continue offering you insights about some of the “invisible forces” limiting your creative output as well as practical strategies that can reignite your creative flames.
These ideas grew out of the research I conducted in writing my forthcoming book: From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How you Can Overcome Them (https://amzn.to/2ToMk6V) which will be released on November 1. It was a most amazing journey of discovery, exploration, and investigation.
This month you’ll enjoy a short piece on daydreaming, how and why you should be more of a daydreamer, some creative thinking puzzles, and a little bit of humor. I hope you find these thoughts to be both enlightening and refreshing. Enjoy the journey!
Just for fun - here are three creative thinking puzzles that may force your mind to think “out of the box.” Give them a try (answers are at the end of the newsletter).
1. A family has a chicken coop containing three dozen egg producing hens. One night, a terrible storm came and killed all but seventeen chickens. How many chickens did the family have in the morning?
2. Three men enter a room, but only two walk out. The room is empty. Where is the third man?
3. A man pushed his car. He stopped when he reached a hotel at which point he knew he was bankrupt. Why?
Daydream for Creativity
“I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.”
- Steven Wright
Go into your memory bank and recall a time in school when you were daydreaming. Perhaps it was during a particularly boring lecture in a history class. Or, maybe you were drifting off while your teacher shared some incomprehensible information about photosynthesis. Or, perhaps your mind wandered all over during a required school assembly.
All too often, we think of daydreaming as something negative (“Young lady, isn’t it about time you rejoined our little discussion here?”). The thinking is that people who daydream aren’t paying attention, they aren’t mentally engaged, and they aren’t processing any of the “required” information. But, what if I told you that frequent daydreaming may be a sign of creativity?
When kids daydream, they conjure up imaginary plots that have them sailing pirates ships across uncharted seas, piloting a rocket ship to a distant world populated by pulsating blobs of purple protoplasm, or assuming some incredible super power. When adults daydream, we often think about escapes to faraway places or "hunky" movie stars.
But, how does daydreaming aid our creative impulses? According to psychologist Eric Klinger, it may be because the waking brain is never really at rest. Klinger posits that floating in unfocused mental states serves an evolutionary purpose. That is, when we are engaged with one task, mind wandering can trigger reminders of other, concurrent, goals so that we do not lose sight of them. Other researchers suggest that increasing the amount of imaginative daydreaming we do (or replaying variants of the millions of events we store in our brain) can be creatively beneficial simply because it allows our minds to wander across imaginative landscapes not normally a part of our logic or normal habits of convergent thinking. In short, daydreaming expands our horizons.
But, there’s a cautionary note here. Research demonstrates a significant correlation between our daydreaming and creativity, not a cause and effect. There may well be other variables at work. However, it’s fair to assume that daydreaming, from a creativity standpoint, is a good thing. It’s not something we should exclude from our everyday lives. Having our heads in the clouds is an opportunity to let our creative powers develop and flourish. This is mental play at its finest - a potent exercise in which innovative thinking is supported and celebrated.
A Touch of Humor
1. My friend recently got crushed by a pile of books, but he’s only got his shelf to blame.
2. What did the surgeon say to the patient who insisted on closing up their own incision? Suture self.
3. Dad, are we pyromaniacs? Yes, we arson.
4. Never buy flowers from a monk. Remember, only you can prevent florist friars.
5. Bono and The Edge walk into a Dublin bar and the bartender says, “Oh, no, not U2 again.”
6. I got over my addiction to chocolate, marshmallows, and nuts. I won’t lie, it was a rocky road.
7. I’ve started telling everyone about the benefits of dried grapes. It’s all about raisin awareness.
Three Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Personal Creativity
· Simple Lesson. Want to be more creative? Think like a child, not like an adult. Children are creative; adults are logical. Adults know what works and what doesn’t work. Children, on the other hand don’t know what they can and cannot do. So, they go out and try. Adults have a tendency to repeat things that don’t work over and over again. A child, on the other hand, doesn’t know what works and, so, tries it out just to see what happens. Pretend you’re doing something for the first time. See what happens. Pablo Picasso was walking home one day and saw an old rusty bicycle seat and handlebars lying on the side of the road. He took them home, stuck them together, and created a sculpture of a bull. Just like a child would do. Climbing inside the mind of a seven-year-old (for example) sounds crazy, but there are lots of practical ramifications…and some very interesting research to back it up. A study by Zabelina and Robinson found that when participants were instructed to imagine themselves as seven-year-olds with copious free time, they performed significantly better on objective tests of creative thinking. The lesson: regression may be just as important as progression.
· Focus Your Daydreaming. Interestingly, it is not unusual for us to spend between 25-50 percent of our waking hours daydreaming or mind-wandering. While daydreaming is frequently portrayed as a “mental black hole” where productivity is diminished or, quite often, extinguished, the opposite may, in fact, be true. According to researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, “...two types of daydreams - those that are personally meaningful and those with fantastical content - are associated with creativity.”
The results of this study of 133 volunteers yielded the following results: “In the lab, we found that participants who reported a greater tendency for meaningful or fantastical daydreams wrote more vivid and creative short stories. Outside of the lab, using experience sampling, we found similar results. Participants who often found their daydreams meaningful reported greater inspiration at the end of the day, and those who frequently reported fantastical daydreams reported more creative behavior.”
The implications are straightforward. That is, the time we spend engaged in meaningful or focused daydreaming and the time we spend in thinking about fantastical alternative worlds might be ways of discovering new inspiration and renewed creativity. In short, daydream more about a project you are working on and you may open up the possibilities for increased levels of creative expression.
· Become The Idea. What if you became the product or idea you were working on? How would your perspective change? How would your immediate environment change? What new things would you see that you were not aware of previously? For example, imagine you are a trash can. How could you be easier to use? How would you clean yourself? How would you feel if everyone ignored you? Now, imagine yourself to be a jar of ground cinnamon. How would you stand out from all the other spices in the grocery store? What would attract attention to you specifically? How could you make sure you were noticed? Now, imagine you are a problem. How are you making life difficult for the people in the room? Why are you so persistent? How would you like to be changed? Enter a world of fantasy and become the idea and you’ll gain new vision and new insights. For example, consider this quote from Albert Einstein: “I [have] come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”
To Think About:
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
- Scott Adams
We’ve got more ideas and insights coming in the next issue (August). Stay tuned.
Anthony D. Fredericks (Tony)
1. The family still had 36 chickens: 19 dead ones and 17 live ones.
2. The third man is in a wheelchair so he rolls out of the room instead of walking out.
3. He was playing Monopoly.