Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity

The One Thing All Creative Geniuses Have In Common

ERIC BARKERBARKING UP THE WRONG TREE 38 MINUTES AGO 186

ZigZag

Keith Sawyer tells an interesting story about breakthrough ideas in his book, Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity. Researcher Vera John-Steiner wanted to know What nourishes sustained productivity in the lives of creative individuals?“ She interviewed over 70 living creative geniuses and analyzed the notebooks of 50 dead ones (including Tolstoy, Einstein, etc.) to look at their work habits. She assumed this was going to end up as a review of Eureka! moments in the greatest creative minds. She even planned to title her book “The Leap” because it would be about those giant flashes of inspiration that led to breakthrough ideas. But she was completely wrong. Eureka! moments turned out to be a myth. There was no inspiration moment where a fully formed answer arrived. Strokes of genius happened over time. A great idea comes into the world by drips and drabs, false starts, and rough sketches.

Via Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity:

Creativity started with the notebooks’ sketches and jottings, and only later resulted in a pure, powerful idea. The one characteristic that all of these creatives shared— whether they were painters, actors, or scientists— was how often they put their early thoughts and inklings out into the world, in sketches, dashed-off phrases and observations, bits of dialogue, and quick prototypes. Instead of arriving in one giant leap, great creations emerged by zigs and zags as their creators engaged over and over again with these externalized images.

She heard it over and over again in the interviews and read it in different forms in every notebook.

Via Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity:

Albert Einstein always said he thought in pictures: “Words do not play any role in my thought; instead, I think in signs and images which I can copy and combine.

English writer Jessica Mitford engaged in a constant dialogue with her unfolding drafts: “The first thing to do is read over what you have done the day before and rewrite it. And then that gives you a lead into the next thing to do.”

The painter Ben Shahn described creativity as “the long artistic tug-of-war between idea and image.

Poet May Sarton wrote, “The poem teaches us something while we make it; there is nothing dull about revision.

It was never a clean, linear process.

Via Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity:

Successful creators engage in an ongoing dialogue with their work. They put what’s in their head on paper long before it’s fully formed, and they watch and listen to what they’ve recorded, zigging and zagging until the right idea emerges. 

What can we take away from this?

Stop expecting inspiration to deliver a finished product.

Write all your ideas down as early as possible. (It’s no surprise so many of the geniuses kept notebooks.)

Stop discarding half-baked ideas. Those crappy ideas are the good ideas — they just need work.

Don’t think your first idea is the right one. And don’t think it’s perfect as-is.

Give it time. Deadlines don’t make you more creative.

Wrestle with your ideas. Dissect, combine, add, subtract, turn them upside down and shake them. Get ideas colliding.

Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity [Hardcover]

Keith Sawyer (Author)

Book Description

Publication Date: March 18, 2013

A science-backed method to maximize creative potential in any sphere of life

With the prevalence of computer technology and outsourcing, new jobs and fulfilling lives will rely heavily on creativity and innovation. Keith Sawyer draws from his expansive research of the creative journey, exceptional creators, creative abilities, and world-changing innovations to create an accessible, eight-step program to increasing anyone’s creative potential. Sawyer reveals the surprising secrets of highly creative people (such as learning to ask better questions when faced with a problem), demonstrates how to come up with better ideas, and explains how to carry those ideas to fruition most effectively.

This science-backed, step-by step method can maximize our creative potential in any sphere of life.

Offers a proven method for developing new ideas and creative problem-solving no matter what your profession

Includes an eight-step method, 30 practices, and more than 100 techniques that can be launched at any point in a creative journey

Psychologist, jazz pianist, and author Keith Sawyer studied with world-famous creativity expert Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Sawyer’s book offers a wealth of easy to apply strategies and ideas for anyone who wants to tap into their creative power.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

From the Author: Eight Simple Techniques For Greater Creativity

Creativity doesn’t come from one brilliant idea; it’s a way of life. Using Sawyer’s techniques, new ideas come every day, leading you always further down the zig-zag path to greater creativity. Try these simple techniques, one for each of Sawyer’s eight steps.

Find the right question

If you’re stumped, it’s often because you’re asking the wrong question. Maybe your question is too narrow and focused, and you just need to think bigger. For example, instead of asking yourself “Should I repair my old car, or buy a new one?” try asking “Can I get a job within walking distance of home?” or “Can I move closer to public transportation?”

Prepare your mind

The most creative people are voracious learners; they dabble in things they know nothing about. Teach yourself something about weaponry, hypnosis, glass blowing, auto repair, Sufi mysticism…

Be aware

Research shows that the most creative people are more likely talk to lots of different people. So try this: Before you attend your next party or social event, choose a color. Then at the event, make a point of meeting and chatting with anyone who’s wearing that color.

Free your mind

When you’re facing a creative challenge, try to imagine it as a problem in a very different world, like Dentistry; Lawn care; Furniture design; Prison; The Circus. How would your problem look in that world? How would you try to solve it?

Generate ideas

You can increase your ability to generate good ideas by practicing idea generation every day in simple tasks. For example, make a long list of specific facts about how the world would be different: If gravity stopped for one second each day? If there were five sexes? Come up with your own idea challenges as you go through your day. In the kitchen: What if my refrigerator had 20 shelves? Preparing for bed at night: What if people could sleep standing up?

Combine ideas

The best insights come from combining ideas that are completely unrelated. Take out paper and pencil and sketch a piece of furniture that is also a kind of fruit; or, a lampshade that is also a kind of book; or, just pick two words at random by closing your eyes and pointing at different pages in a book, and invent a combination.

Make ideas even better

Once you have a few ideas, take each one of them (even the ones that aren’t so great) and list at least three benefits of that idea, and then list at least three practical steps you would have to take to implement the idea. This simple technique often helps you think of ways to make the ideas even better.

Get your ideas into the world

Buy a stack of ten magazines. (Or take some of those old magazines in your dentist’s waiting room) Clip out any photos that seem related to your problem, and keep going until you have 50 photos. Use a glue stick and make a collage by sticking them onto a large piece of poster board. Keep the collage near your desk for a couple of weeks, and make sure to look at it each day.

From the Inside Flap

“No matter what kind of creativity I studied, the process was the same. Creativity did not descend like a bolt of lightning that lit up the world in a single brilliant flash. It came in tiny steps, bits of insight, and incremental changes. Zigs and zags. When people followed those zigs and zags, ideas and revelations started flowing.”
—From the Introduction

Can you be more creative? Absolutely, and Zig Zag shows you how. Dr. Keith Sawyer, a psychologist, professor, jazz pianist, and former video game designer, is one of the world’s leading experts on creativity. To develop his accessible eight-step creativity program, Sawyer explored the lives of exceptional creators, tapped into the back stories of world-changing innovations, and analyzed laboratory experiments that delved deeply into the everyday creativity that all of us share. He discovered many surprising secrets of highly creative people—how they question assumptions when presented with new problems, how they get beyond creative blocks, and above all, how they negotiate the many twists and turns along the way.

Zig Zag draws on these secrets to provide an eight-step program that will help you achieve greater creativity—whether you’re looking for new ways to excel at your job, build a fulfilling career, develop a more deeply satisfying personal life, find fresh, clever, permanent solutions to nagging problems, make better decisions, bring about change in your community, and more.

Zig Zag provides an unprecedented collection of more than one hundred practical, hands-on activities that will keep you moving down the creative path. These research-based techniques help you ask deeper questions, see the world in new ways, and develop novel ideas. Zig Zag is your guidebook to the surprising, unpredictable, and fascinating journey that leads to greater creativity.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: