Whilst reading my way through the business section at my local library, I came across a nugget of a book by Janice Armstrong entitled ‘Unleashing your Creativity’(2008 A&C Black). Whilst primarily aimed at small businesses, innovation and new ways of thinking can be inspiring for anyone:
Janice suggests that the creative process requires both the right (creative) and left (logical) sides of the brain, but many of us have a bias to the left. This is not surprising since our education system favours reason and logic, particularly to pass exams, and with many more creative and imaginative subjects being dropped early on. She gives some tips to develop our wasted right brain creative ‘muscle’ by breaking our patterns and norms of behaviour. This includes things such as drawing with your non-dominant hand (eg. a goal you have or a problem you face), visualisation exercises; journaling; talking about ideas; remembering invigorating experiences; music, meditation, and writing poetry.
Some of these might be familiar, but I liked the idea of trying to stimulate the non-dominant side of my brain, so during the six weeks of Lent I took to journaling, but writing with my left (non-dominant) hand. It was a slow but enjoyable process but not surprisingly, I kept my words to a minimum – a good discipline. It also proved revelatory and that was because of something else I had been reflecting on in the book:
There is a short section on ‘Strange ideas that get results’. One of these includes ‘Breaking your own rules’. This isn’t, Janice reassures her readers, about breaking the law or doing something unethical but just becoming self aware of the ways that we limit ourselves. I found this intriguing and set to trying to identify what some of my rules might be. Journaling left handed was an embodiment of this. The revelations for me were that I need to be much more spontaneous (tendency to over-think things) and also to embrace the new frontier of social media that I have prevaricated over for long enough (too risky). Some really positive, enjoyable and fruitful things are emerging from this for me. So what are your rules and how might you break them?
Other ‘strange ideas that get results’ include:
‘Talk to people you don’t like’ – I thought initially that there aren’t many people I don’t like, but gradually realised (to my shame) that I do zone out some (stereotypes are alive and well). Anyway when I have engaged with people that I probably wouldn’t normally, I have been pleasantly surprised and uplifted. Has it made me more creative? Don’t know. Perhaps just a better person.
‘Create a Sensory Box’ – using textures, smells, natural beautiful objects (eg. shells), flavours etc. to help evoke and generate ideas. (Shells and honeysuckle do it for me.)
‘Identify your Creative Space’ – Where are the places you can be your most creative? Interestingly for my self (introvert), the local library is one of them; certain rooms and niches in our home; coffee shops and a solitary latte; certain people who inspire me; and a variety of local circular walks. Sometimes I need to walk to think.
‘Speed Dating’ – although I haven’t tried this one yet, I’m sure I will – it sounds fun and productive. This is for groups that need to generate ideas or find solutions to particular challenges. Put people in pairs and then ask them to come up with 3 ideas about a specific challenge; then move around to find different pairs, generate 3 more ideas about another but related aspect and so on. This is meant for a business setting but I thought you could pretty much use it with any group. I’m thinking of using it to liven up our local church group to get some ownership and collaboration amongst the rank and file.
Something from these notes may have drawn you in – if so, go with that and see where it takes you. Why not register on the blog and let me know how you get on?!