Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Let's Play Catch

Exploring Creativity Series - Part Three

If you are just joining the fun - here's a recap.

Part One - Creativity is within every one's reach -posted here.

Part Two - Busting myths and beliefs that can hold us back -found here

Now that we are past the introductions - let's get to the exciting part.
Do you want to improve, boost or enjoy more benefits from your creativity? There are skills proven to help you do so. Do you remember playing catch as a child? Did you ever go fishing? Did you ever try to catch a frog, lizard, snake - or any animal? What did you use to help your 'catching' ability? A mitt, a hook, your bare hands? Did you need to be fast, patient or both?

Before we can act on any of our creative ideas, we have to capture them first. Why? If we don't record or capture an idea, we'll forget it. Even if we think we have a great memory. Even if the idea is big, or so totally awesome we think it's impossible to forget - it is possible to forget. The better the idea, the more important to record it. This is what Dr. Peek (BYU Humanities Professor) had to say about creativity and memory:

“In Greek mythology, Mnemosyne*, was the personification of memory. She was the mother of the nine muses. The muses in turn, were the goddesses who inspired literature and the arts. They were considered the sources of the knowledge that was contained in poetry, myth, and history. And that was, for many centuries, celebrated and disseminated orally. The types of work inspired by the muses were the artistic, the creative. Memory, is therefore, the grandmother, so to speak, of almost all creative endeavors and a critical component in the relationship between the creator and the created. In part, this was so because of the profound orality of the ancient world, where even when anything was preserved in writing, the average person did not have access to copies of that writing. The memorization of long passages of poetry, drama, and oratory was the presumed activity of educated artists and citizens. All literature, indeed arguably, all language, knowledge and skills were preserved and transmitted orally. For the created work to have any value it must be remembered. If it is not remembered, it cannot exist.
"Yea, They May Forget, Yet Will I Not Forget Thee", Peek, Cecilia M.**, November 09, 2010 italics added for emphasis! & a really great devotional message, too.
We have to find some way- whatever way works best for us- to record and preserve the idea so we don't forget it. 
"New ideas are like rabbits streaking through consciousness; they're fleeting. If you don't grab them quickly, they're usually gone forever.
The main thing that distinguishes "creative" people from the rest of us is that the creative ones have learned ways to pay attention to and then to preserve some of the new ideas that occur to them. They have capturing skills."   
"Capturing is easier in certain settings and at certain times, so we improve our catch by identifying the settings and times that work best for us. For some people, the Three Bs of Creativity--the Bed, the Bath, and the Bus--are particularly fertile, especially if you keep writing materials handy in those locations. . . Others need to sit by a pool or on a cruise ship or in a lonely cabin in the woods."
"People who are serious about exploring their creative side develop and practice various methods of capturing new ideas. Artists carry sketchpads. Writers and advertisers carry notepads or pocket computers. Inventors make notes on napkins and candy-bar wrappers--especially inventors of new foods!" ~By Robert Epstein, Capturing Creativity,  July 01, 1996 
So take a minute and think about what you do when you have a 'new' idea. 
Do you dismiss it? Do you write it down? Do you pick up the phone and tell your best friend who then patents it and makes millions? 
Do you want to discover how creative you really are?
Try the Capture Challenge.
For the next forty-eight hours (that's only two days, right?) decide to take every new idea seriously. Each new idea gets the right to be captured or recorded in some way. Not dismissed. Not judged as crazy, worthless, or useless. If it is new - it gets to be captured. There will be time for evaluating later. And what counts as a new idea? If it is new to you, record it. If it's a new idea for your book, record it. If it is a new idea for a gift, a talk, how to fix your garbage disposal, write it down! 

Be prepared for a couple of things to happen when you take this challenge. As you back off critiquing your ideas before you write them down - you will begin to have more ideas. Also, new ideas may come when you are not in a very good position to capture them. It turns into a game, 'catch me if you can'. So, yes, I'm about to utter (okay, write) the phrase I've never really liked, but happens to apply here, 'expect the unexpected'. Here is a little example. (I don't think Otto new about my creativity challenge, but it fits!)
The scientist Otto Loewi had struggled for years with a problem in cell biology. One night, a new approach to the problem occurred to him in his sleep. In the dark, he grabbed a pen and pad, recorded his new ideas, and went back to sleep. Come morning, he couldn't read his writing! Had he imagined this great solution, or was it real? The next night he was blessed by the same flash of insight. This time, he took no chances; he pulled on his clothes and went straight to his lab. He won the Nobel Prize for the work he began that night.~By Robert Epstein, Capturing Creativity, July 01, 1996
I think Otto was blessed to have the same flash of insight two nights in a row. Most of us do not get that opportunity. However, if we practice the skill of capturing, we can be ready for the ideas the first time they 'streak' through our minds. Good luck. Tell me what you already do to capture your ideas & let me know if you take the challenge. Of course, I cannot be held responsible if you have a flood of new ideas - although if you have any dreams that lead you win a Nobel Prize . . . I wouldn't mind a little shout out!

Up next: How to accelerate the flow of your new ideas.
*(nem-o-soon-ay) Greek goddess of memory, in Greek mythology, the goddess of memory and mother of the Muses ] 
**Cecilia Peek is an associate professor of humanities, classics and comparative literature at BYU. Her research interests include Hellenistic and Roman history, Greek and Latin prose literature and classical historiography. She received a bachelor’s degree in classical literature, from BYU; a master’s degree in ancient history and Mediterranean archaeology from the University of California–Berkeley; and a doctorate in ancient history and Mediterranean archaeology from University of California–Berkeley.


kbrebes said...

Great post, Tamara! Yes, they are like rabbits! lol! I write in the dark, too, or sometimes run into the bathroom with a flashlight. I also carry a notebook for ideas and keep a special smaller notebook just for great sounding titles that come to me.

Renae W. Mackley said...

I agree that writing ideas down is a stimulus to more ideas. Wasn't it Elder Scott or Eyring who said to have a notebook by your beside? (Too lazy to look it up just now.) Your next post sounds great. See ya later.

Melody said...

So is that Mnemosyne (did I spell that right??) where we get the term mnemonic devices? Hm, must be.

Anyways, I don't know if I am truly up for your challenge, but I think I might try. I keep thinking of great ideas for Christmas gifts, but don't write anything down because I'm POSITIVE I won't forget it. Guess what? I almost always do.

Great post!


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