Creative Preparation 2
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“How can you create optimal conditions for the creative process to unfold?”
“Edward de Bono makes a distinction between artistic creativity and idea creativity. I’m mainly interested in the latter, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on.
The goal of idea creativity is creating ideas through combining ideas.
The output of idea creativity is creative ideas, which are a synergistic combination of two or more ideas – a combo, in Magic the Gathering terminology.
What’s important to understand is that it’s the subconscious mind that makes the connections. The role of the conscious mind is merely to facilitate this process.
There’s several aspects to creative preparation:
– Creative Library
– Creative Stimulation
– Creative State
– Creative Limitations
– Creative Oscillation
Ideas are the building-blocks, so a large part of creative preparation involves collecting ideas. I like to think of this process as building a ‘creative library’. An inner library of internalized ideas, and an outer library of externally stored ideas – which can be thought of as an extension of your brain.
To create ideas you need to have ideas stored in your creative library. The more you have, the wider the possibility-space.
The quality of the creative output is dependent on the quality of the stored ideas. The less noise, the more signal.
This is essentially creative priming, bringing ideas ‘on top of your mind’, thus increasing the likelihood of generating useful creative output.
Another aspect of it is creative provocation, which is meant to break through thought-patterns that inhibit creativity (pattern-breaking), that prevent your subconscious mind from making certain connections.
Your creative capacity is profoundly influenced by your state of mind (state management), which is profoundly influenced by your energy level (energy management).
Brian Johnson’s fundamentals of optimal living are a beautiful guideline here:
All are important.
Tony Robbins’ Triad of Human Emotions – which we’ve talked about before [<link; medium read] – is another beautiful guideline.
Another aspect of it is what I call the creative mindset. This involves embracing your playful essence, making creativity a central value of your life, and a deep trust in your innate capacity to create.
Restrictions breed creativity. (Mark Rosewater)
On a general level, this means embracing and befriending the very notion of constraint. For me, Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way captures this idea beautifully.
On a specific level, this may mean choosing a creative focus, to serve as a starting point, and – similarly to meditation – as an anchor to return to when your mind wanders off course.
We’ve talked a while back about the distinction between Focused and Diffuse Thinking [<link; medium read]. The creative process requires both. Both engagement and disengagement.
The focused mode is for creative stimulation. You’re sketching a map for your subconscious to explore. Then you let go.
A beautiful diffuse-mode activity is what I call the creative walk. Going for a walk, equipped with a notepad or your phone to collect the fleeting flowers of your thought. What makes the creative walk beautiful is the life-stacking [<link; medium read] aspect of it. You’re moving at the same time.”
The Antifragility Game
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“How can I practice Antifragility?”
“See it as a game.
In essence, it’s a game of Perception. You’re playing with Attention and Meaning.
For instance, let’s say a specific situation triggers frustration. Like when a web-page takes too long to load.
What’s the antifragile response?
You might ask yourself:
How can I beautify this moment?
You might choose to focus on – direct your Attention to – Gratitude. You can bring to mind all the silent gifts you tend to take for granted: your computer, with all its peripherals, the Internet, the chair you’re sitting on, the table you’re sitting at, etc.
You might choose to focus on Time. That small time-window is a beautiful opportunity for a micro-meditation. You can take a few mindful breaths, smile, connect with yourself, and relax.
By accessing some internal resources – Gratitude, Meditation – you’ve taken the situation and turned it on its head.”
“What if in the same situation I’m in an unresourceful state? That makes it harder to access my internal resources.
To quote Tim Ferris:
In a lowered emotional state, we only see problems, not solutions.
“In that case, changing your state becomes the absolute priority.
The best way to change your state quickly is by doing something intensely physical. Like a sprint, or a few burpees… or climbing a tree.
The Movement Game is an essential aspect of the Antifragility Game.“
“What if I’m somewhere in public?”
“Even better. You get to practice indifference to other people’s opinions as well – or what I like to call, social deconditioning.”