LET’S LOOK AT CREATIVITY!

IMAGINE: HOW CREATIVITY WORKS by Jonah Lehrer

Over the years I’ve looked for books on creativity. I haven’t found much and that’s why I was excited to see this book in the paper one day. It’s getting a lot of attention. So many news and book entities are stumbling over each other to say nice things, I had to read it. So I patiently waited for my turn at the library and eventually I made off with the coveted treasure.

Alone at home I perused the book’s pages looking for THE secret. What would make this writer…more creative? I did learn a few things. Like how the brain solves puzzles. Most of us will try logic until the left hemisphere gets frustrated. When we become stumped, we tend to complain and whine, or storm off. Eventually we might try a new approach which causes a spike in gamma waves. The epiphany moment, the breakthrough we all want, is signaled by increased activity in the anterior superior temporal gyrus. While interesting, this hasn’t actually made me much more creative. I shake the book and plead, what can I DO to be more creative???

The author insists we stay with the process. Now if you get stuck in the creative process, he does offer some help. There are times when walking away and taking a break can be beneficial. The conventional wisdom of clearing your head is quite effective. And the author cautions that drugs which increase attention tend to decrease the likelihood of the “Aha” moment. So that means lay off the coffee and ADHD meds. Go ahead and daydream. Your teachers were partially wrong about that. Daydreaming can be very helpful in stimulating new ideas and approaches, but usually only if you’re the kind of dreamer who has the skill to identify solutions when they arise. I’m not sure I’m the proficient type, so I’ll have to be very observant when I put this idea into practice.

Additionally, your environment can help your creativity. Open sunny spaces may help us be more creative, so sit near a window or go outside whenever possible. The color blue seems to increase creativity, expansive thinking, and alpha wave production. Red, on the other hand, is better for focus and attention to details.

The other part of the equation on creativity has to do with utilizing the ideas or insights we get and bringing them into the world. This is the part where the real focused, butt-in-chair action has to happen. Actually this is the part I’m pretty good at. I’m able to skim this section of the book.

So what did I do with all my new-found knowledge? I have a blue blotter on my desk to expand my thinking. Is it working? No idea.

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39 Comments

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39 responses to “LET’S LOOK AT CREATIVITY!

  1. Time to re-paint my room! Sky-blue, I think…

  2. Great post! And great comments by your readers, as well. I look forward to trying some of these suggestions myself.
    Thanks for the like on my blog, and best wishes with your writing!

  3. Lynn Beene

    Great website!

  4. whats this….? I am aligning with my creativity!?! I moved my laptop and found you enjoying yours. natural sunlit, north facing craft room window allows me an enchanted moment to share with You!!
    That which is like unto itself is drawn.

    pEaCeoUt

  5. Love this post. If you want some additional insight into creativity, check out this awesome Ted Talk given by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86x-u-tz0MA

  6. Nice post. Thanks for reminding me to spend some time day-dreaming!

  7. Personally, I take a bath. It’s amazing how many times this has helped me write my way out of a literary corner.

  8. Thanks for visiting my blog, and your like! I really like this article and look forward to reading some more from you!

  9. Really enjoyed this post. What he did gives a bad name to writers everywhere, those that struggle to get where he was. Should have used the creative process a little more carefully! ….my creative process, I haven’t quite found, I try to write whenever I have a spare moment, which is pretty much never in my world. I have quite a bit of neediness around me. I hope to get to a point where I can find a certain peace in a certain place just for it. I will take heed of some of these suggestions!

  10. Mr. Lehrer has now admitted to both recycling materials from his other publications for this book and making up quotes for which he attributed to Bob Dylan. As a result of these revelations, Mr. Lehrer’s book has been pulled from sale on Amazon and he has resigned from the New Yorker. http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/jonah-lehrer-resigns-from-new-yorker-after-making-up-dylan-quotes-for-his-book/

  11. inkspeare

    Blue is my favorite color and I love Periwinkle, even the name 🙂

  12. Yes, yes. Environment is key for my creativity flow. Good tips in here. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Hello & thanks for the visit! my favourite take on creativity is by Dr. Sylvia Hartmann, took my understanding of the process to a whole new level! http://silviahartmann.com/creativity-explained.php

  14. My experience with creativity is that it has a unique fingerprint. My creativity tends to be that I synthesize ideas or seemingly disparate elements into something new. Creativity fusion, I suppose! While others’ seems to be totally innovative, doing something completely original. I say we’re all creative in one way or another!:-)

  15. That sounds like a really interesting book; I love trying to understand how the mind works and what triggers certain behaviours. I don’t think you can just read a few books and become more creative however. The only way is to encourage your thinking to go that way and to practice. There are many things you can do to stimulate the growth of new ideas, such as brainstorming, looking towards various different media and even sleeping. I reckon that most people who struggle with creativity aren’t actually lacking on ideas but simply don’t know how to receive and encourage them. Always keep an open mind and be ready to jot down what happens (also I find trying to be creative often has the opposite effect, The best stuff happens when your not trying.)

  16. lemwriting

    I like this post. No more extremely extensive butt in chair times for me. I’ll take breaks, and consider the color blue.

  17. Interesting post. It sounds like a good book.
    I am just starting to use the right side of the brain instead of being so logical and literal. An example is my acrostic poem called this haiku reaches out. Would love to hear your opinion on it.

  18. Great article, blog, whatever. I find that I’m more creative when I drink. Just kidding. Actually, while I’m driving or in the shower. Both are extremely inconvenient. However, I’m smart enough to realize that it is when my mind is preoccupied by reflexive memory and muscle memory. That sounds like a line of B.S., but it’s true. In other words, when I am doing something mundane, I tend to be more creative as my muse works even harder during those times. It is as Hemingway said, and I paraphrase: leave the well with some water and don’t even think about it. It will fill up by the next day.

  19. interesting! i find that I’m more creative the more sociable I am. Whether this is because it relaxes me and frees my mind up, or whether conversations or people subconsciously give me ideas I dont know! I agree that getting fresh air is helpful – I finished my first book when travelling and that really gave me lots of ideas! Thanks for liking “In That Other Dimension” – the book I’m blogging, glad you’re enjoying it!

  20. I’m in the process of reading this book as well – I’m about halfway through it. And you know, I’ve realized that what he’s sharing could be told in a New Yorker column instead of a book.

  21. I go back to Artist Way periodically and always find help there. If I really need specific help, I schedule my writing time during Mercury’s planetary hours, light a candle and say a quick prayer to the Hermes and Athena. >^..^<

  22. Try John Adair The Art of Creative Thinking

  23. Ta for paying us a visit and liking the post.Life is such an elongated road. Our paths will cross again.

  24. I have this book sitting on my “to be read” pile. I think perhaps it’s time to move it up the pile and get to it.

  25. SPECIAL KAYE

    i am not a writer per say but I am an artist. I draw and paint, now mind you i haven”t done this in quite a while..I had a wonderful art teacher that would say that you have to let your brain ‘flip’ from th analytical side to the creativity side of the brain which is the left side. She would play calming music in the background in class….classical or something very calming.,.,I do not know if you know anything about meditating but it is a great way to relax…You can find all kinds of guided meditation cd’s most anywhere. or you could go with the meditational type of cd with nature sounds or waterfall sounds,…there are so many to choose from…My art teachers thought process on this was to have the classical or meditational type music playing softly in the background to relax us and it always seemed to work. Before I knew it, I was honed into the creative side of my brain and focused on what i was doing and was where i needed to be. I dont knwo if this will help you or not…but it always helps me. I was always told relaxation was the key because it kept you from flipping your brain back to the right side and getting frustrated. We would listed to Bach…oh gosh i dont think I can name them all.. Also, If you have a smell you like, maybe lighting a candle or insence would help with a soft scent. It couldn’t be very strong or it would defeat the purpose. I have also heard if you are by a window it would help, The natural light and if there is a good view out the window,…you could find yourself daydreaming staring out at the beauty outside. Sitting under a tree is relaxing as well…but this heat, i am not sure it would do much good…but it is a thought….i hope that maybe one of these can help you or are what you were looking for. It has always helped me flip to my creative side of my brain. Please let me know if it helps you if you wouldnt mind…I am curious to know if it does help you…sometimes different things for different people ya know,. lol..good luck…

    • SPECIAL KAYE

      Oh I had one more suggestion….all if my children have been on ADD/ADHD medications. Being off of them didn’t seem to help their creativity…but you could be different…if you get frustrated when you are off of it or cant sit still to even try, i would definitely start taking the medication again….I do not know how you are but i had two with adhd and one with add so it was difficult for all of them in school…they could still daydream on their medication….but I always made sure it wasnt so strong that they werent ‘my’ children if you know what i mean….

      • I don’t have any experience with ADD/ADHD medications. The author seems to think that those medications facilitate concentration at the expense of Aha moments. I guess it’s a delicate balancing act, like so much of life.

    • All good ideas to quiet the mind. I think there’s also something to be said about stimulating creativity that has to do with getting out and engaging with the world. Giving the mind creative fodder to work with. Seeing new things, meeting with people, reading, etc.

  26. C W Reynolds

    I’ve found that my most creative periods tends to be relegated to certain times of the day. Rarely before 9am or 9pm.
    Unfortunately, the research part does seem to be lagging. Having had to do a research project for academia, the biggest issue I could see with a research project would be finding a provable or nonprovable thesis. As someone mentioned in another comment, creativity does seem to be very individualized. Individualized responses, while great for artists, are bad for scientists.

  27. I think there just isn’t a whole lot of money going into this kind of research so that’s why there’s not a lot out there. One thing which ticked me off about Imagine was that it represents scientific materialism and fails to honor (at least the possibility) that we might not discover the whole truth by disecting the brain. Traditionally artists have paid homage to the muse, but even quantum physics is pointing us to look beyond gray matter and chemical processes.
    I’ll have to check out, The Element. Thanks.

  28. I’ve been trying to find books on creativity too, but the type we are looking for don’t seem to exist! Maybe this tells us that there is no sure-fire way to increase creativity – everyone has their own way?

    You might like having a look at ‘The Element’ by Ken Robinson. I haven’t personally read it, but lots of people buy it from the bookstore I work at and seem to like it.

  29. fascinating… I find that reading a really good book sparks me and inspires me to get on with mine! I even wonder if this is the litmus test of a good book – that it does inspire! And being alone helps!

  30. Anne Bonney

    That’s interesting about daydreaming – doodling, too, I would imagine. It seems to work for me anyway. Lay off coffee ?! I’ll have to think about that.

  31. I find creativity seems to come easier after I have calmed the mind down. When it is busy jumping all over the place, I seem to miss things. Never tried the blue color, wil give it a whirl.

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