by Mahn Lion

Imagine you’re one of those fancy-pants Fine Arts students over at the Paddington campus. You’re a genuinely fine painter, exquisite at drawing and a master of the socio-political histories that made your art forms what they are today.

One day, like many days before, some engineering mouth-breather leans over your shoulder while you draw and exclaims, “Wow, that’s SO good! You’re SO creative!”

This person is:

1    Is undermining literally thousands of hours of practice.

2    Completely wrong about the nature and uses of creativity.

What’s creativity?

Creativity is the confluence of two known ideas, concepts or frameworks creating something new in your brain. Collecting the dots of the world, then connecting them.

Creativity relates the understanding of one things impact upon another. It’s essential to everyone, in all industries, and beneficial for practise and cultivation.

How do I Get creative breakthroughs?

It works like a muscle.

Researchers Judah Pollack and Olivia Fox have found that when the dominant part of your brain is occupied with a simple task like taking a shower, doing the dishes or sleeping, ten different areas [of the brain] light up, come together and work on the problems you’ve been mulling over.

When we are focused on a task, we are using the front part of our brain which is very goal oriented, focused and results driven. It’s also very loud. This part of our brain, will get in the way of the networked parts that come together and do trial and error breakthroughs by smashing different frameworks together and recontextualising ideas.

You can literally set yourself up for creative, innovative and breakthrough thinking by feeding yourself content to mull over, then shutting your focused brain down by going for a walk or doodling on some paper.

Are there any techniques that are more specific?

By learning something new, you create a whole new landscape and map of frames from which to draw to help you understand something else.

Because of the neuroplasticity inside our noggins, there’s a few techniques that you can practise or frameworks to adopt to make creativity come a little smoother. Like fibre in your diet.

1.      Go for a walk, dude.

Walking is the perfect (aforementioned) mundane task. It gives oxygen to your brain, but is not strenuous enough to take it away from your brain to give to your muscles.

You also don’t have to pay much attention to your surroundings, which activates that network of ten parts of genius. PLUS, the scenery keens changing, so new information and patterns keep flowing in.

2.      Objectify yo’ Objects.

This one’s a cross between an improv drama game and Karl Dunker’s Functional Fixedness. Take an object and see how many uses you can come up with for it. This loosens the mental screws that keep thinking so black, white and rigid, by subverting the Functional Fixedness from your human brain.

3.      Whiskey! Sort of.

Alcohol and big ideas have a historical correlation. Note that booze isn’t necessary. All the alcohol does to the dormant genius is shut down the part of the brain thats critical. When you get a bad idea, roll with it for a little, even if its full of holes.

4.      Focus and then don’t.

Its less productive to be focussed and working at a slow burn a lot of the time than it is to have booms and lulls of productivity and play. When you’re working, your focussed and the creative networks shut down, have a snooze and think about puppies.

During the booms (or lulls) of play, self care and relaxation, the ideas can roll in, reinvigorate you and boom, everyone thinks you’re clever.

5.      Learn.

By learning new hobbies, ideas and practises, you’re giving yourself more information and frameworks for your creative brain to draw upon.

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