In the previous post I've described how to find challenges to exercise your creativity.
This post is about generating new and creative ideas.
Background (how mind works)
The main function of a brain is to make predictions about the world.(when you can predict what happens next you are better at survival and reproduction).
Brain makes predictions by learning(memorizing) and then recognizing patterns.
Default thinking patterns
When you think you follow a sequence of familiar, memorized steps, to go from one thought to another.These are "thinking patterns", I will call them "lanes"
What is the last worrd at the end of this _______?
You can naturally fill the last word(sentence) because you have recognized the beginning of a familiar pattern, and can predict what happens next.
More examples of patterns:
Curiosity is what people experience when they are faced with a pattern that they can not recognize, so they can't predict the outcome of it. The more valuable it is to predict that outcome the more curious people are.
What is creativity?
Examples above were the examples of the "default", "normal" lanes.
This is the "default" mode of thinking.We think in patterns, we follow lanes, the trails of thought.New thoughts logically flow from the previous ones and lead to the next - default, familiar, and expected thoughts.
Creativity is the process of finding/creating the new, unexpected, abnormal thinking patterns.
New "creative" ideas/discoveries/inventions are the thinking patterns that nobody has recognized before.
These are the 2 very important properties of the alternative lane that make it into a valuable creative idea, both of which should necessarily be true.
Alternative lane should be:- New- Compatible with the real world (it "makes sense in the hindisght")
If the thought is not new it is just a normal thought, not interesting, and if it is not compatible with the real world it is just a crazy random thought that has nothing to do with anything.
But when it's both new and compatible - it becomes a new and valuable idea.
When scientists invent new laws or formulas - they are essentially finding new (unexpected) lanes, that are compatible with reality. The old lanes were also compatible with reality, but the new ones describe it more accurately, better:
When writers write fiction, they create new lanes that are not compatible with reality. Some small change in reality leads to new situations and unexpected outcomes, which makes them interesting:
People value the new and unexpected thinking patterns, and enjoy learning them. Similarly people value destroying the old and wrong patterns(finding mistakes in their thinking).
To create ideas we need to break out of the default/normal patterns, and create/find new, alternative lanes, the trails of thoughts that we would not find by following the "normal" lanes step by step.
How do you find a 2nd alternative lane that is both new/unexpected and compatible with the default one?
- First you look at all the boring/default options thoughts available now
You can find a lane that is compatible with reality, and search for ways to make it new.
("Searching for the alternatives").
You can start with new/crazy idea and search for ways to make it compatible with reality. ("Jump>Move").
Identifying the default options
First you look at your challenge, and break it down into smaller elements, once it's done, you list all the boring/default thoughts and options available now.
Searching for the alternatives
You take your default options one by one, and consciously search for the new alternatives.
- Take a default/boring option, and then "jump" from it - flip it upside down, turn it into it's opposite, make it extremely exaggerated, etc.
(Turn a normal element into a crazy idea.)
- And then "move" - try to find a way to "connect" this new crazy idea to the reality, explain how that could make sense.
(Find a connection/association between this crazy idea and the reality.)
Jump is a method for breaking out of the default thinking patterns, for intentionally generating "crazy" ideas.
When you "jump" your goal is to createcrazy/very-not-true/wrong/over-the-top/insane but new ideas.
These ideas should not be "creative" or "valuable" or make any sense at all. The only purpose of this step is to take you away from the normal/default trail of thinking, and the only thing they should be is new.
Types of jump:
Take an element and turn it into it's complete opposite, flip it upside down.
Take an element and exaggerate it way out of proportion. Change it's size, importance, amount, etc.
- Connect to a random lane
Take a random word, or a subject, and assign one of it's properties to the element.
Change the order in which things are done.
New ideas are sparkling through the gap between the default and crazy.
When you "move", your goal is to find a way to connect/associate the "crazy" idea you've made during the jump to the reality, make it compatible with reality.
Move is the process of "seriously thinking on crazy stuff".
(Rationally explain the insane thing)
Ways to move:
- Why? How? Explain.
Thinks about why such thing could happen, how that can be possible, try to explain it.
Visualise this crazy idea, imagine how it would work, think about all of it's implications.
- Positive aspect
Find a positive aspect of the crazy isea. What is good about it? What would actually make sense?
- Situation in which it could be useful
Imagine a situation where it would make sense, where it could be good and useful.
List the differences between the crazy idea and the "real/default" world. Which of them make sense? Which of them are good/possible? How would it make the world better/worse? What if the opposite would happen?
You find the second lane in the process of trying to connect the "crazy idea" with the reality.This steps connects the 2 lanes, make the "crazy idea" sensible in the hindsight, as a result of that - you have a new lane(idea).
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