Cracking creativity #2

I’m totally absorbed by Michael Michalko’s Cracking Creativity; it’s an excellent book. Basically, it deals with how the mind works in regard to creativity, such as in what ways the unconscious can assist to solve problems; what techniques to use to break free from past associations in order to get new ideas, and so on.

Michalko has examined great geniuses, such as Edison, Leonardo and Einstein, to see what it was that they did that enabled their breakthrough ideas. Much of it has to do with the fact that your brain learns over time, and that it prefers the thought paths of previous experience, which is a hindrance if you want to be creative: you only get the same old ideas, and solutions to problems, over and again.

One thing I read recently that is interesting in the context of weblogging, is the importance of recording your ideas and your progress. Leonardo heavily used notebooks where he recorded his ideas. Michalko writes: “The simple act of recording his ideas enabled Leonardo da Vinci to dwell on his ideas and improve them over time by elaborating on them.” As you write your ideas down, they enter your long-term memory. I have noticed that some ideas linger, that I am forced to return to them; this happens much more often than before I started weblogging.

Edison followed the practice of Leonardo, and left 3,500 notebooks when he died. He constantly went back to previous notes; especially when he was stuck and felt he needed new ideas – he went back and tried to find old ideas that he could adapt to his current problems. Michalko writes that Edison, besides his own ideas and notes from his work, recorded “observations of the natural world, failed patents and research papers written by other inventors, and ideas others had come up with in other fields. He would also routinely comb a wide variety of diverse publications for novel ideas that sparked his interest and record them in his notebooks.”

Got to go.

The above was posted to my personal weblog on December 1, 2002. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.


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