Thinking outside the ???

I’ve read Kyna Leski’s [amazon_link id=”0262029944″ target=”_blank” ]The Storm of Creativity[/amazon_link] on my travels this past couple of days. Although the author is an architect, and normally I’d have filed this mentally as one for arty people, my attention was caught on flicking through it by the fact that the book uses Darwin as one of its prominent examples – his papers are all accessible online, which makes him a great candidate for studying the thought processes of a creative genius). The aim in the book is to describe the process of creative discovery in general, so there are also examples from medicine as technology as well as the arts.

[amazon_image id=”0262029944″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Storm of Creativity (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life)[/amazon_image]

It is by no means a ‘how to’ book. Still, the description of the stages of being creative range true with me (not that I’m claiming any great creative kudos for myself). There is ‘unlearning’ to start with (not even ‘thinking outside the box’, but not starting with a box at all; reframing, perhaps, avoiding the usual tramlines). This heading also emphasised ‘attentiveness’ and I wholly agree that the most interesting people I meet or hear are superb at listening, paying attention to detail etc. “Attentiveness in the creative process de-emphasizes information that already exists, and what you and others may have done before.”

Next is problem making (asking new questions, where nobody else had seen anything to question in the first place); gathering (accumulating ideas, information, bits and pieces, in an unformed way); propelling (using the relevant professional language to get going: “Drawing is taking a line for a walk,” said Paul Klee), perceiving (having a sensibility about some emerging new thing/idea), seeing ahead (starting to shape an outcome), connecting (“Darwin is one of the most creative connectors of all time.” I think this means ability to synthesize separate elements into a new picture); pausing (a break in the momentum – a time to let the mind wander, daydream etc); and continuing (persistence, even in the face of failure).

This all makes sense to me, although having followed the Darwin trail I did conclude that the book will make more sense to people in the arts and design.

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