I came across an interesting look at the science behind creative ideas and thought I would pass it along.
The article also references one of my favorite books on the topic, A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young.
Young was an ad man from the Mad Men era who fully believed that you can train your mind to produce ideas. He goes on to say that this is very simple in terms of concept and methods but challenging to actually do.
The formula is so simple to state that few really believe in it.
But it actually requires the hardest kind of intellectual work to follow so not all who accept it use it.
~James Webb Young
I like this book so much that I own it in hard copy and on my Kindle. I even did a flashtalk presentation on the book at a work function a few months ago.
It’s a slim volume that you can likely read in a couple of hours but it’s jam-packed full of goodies. Go ahead – pick up a copy. It might just be the best $5 you spend this year.
I realize that this will likely be one of the approximately one million Thanksgiving-related posts published over the next couple of days.
However, since one of my personal efforts over the past few years is to make more of a conscious effort to look for things to be thankful for and to just be thankful in general, I felt compelled to post.
It can be really hard sometimes to find things to celebrate or things to be thankful for, particularly since the media (and maybe even human nature in general) tends to gravitate towards bad news.
It’s so easy for us to hear about things that are wrong in the world that it sometimes seems like nothing is going right. I’ve found that while bad news is almost always right in front of us, good things are too – we just often have to look for them so that they don’t get washed out in the glare of all of the troubles that seem to occupy so much airtime and webspace.
For me, gratitude lies in the smaller things and unexpected pleasures that fill the spaces in life.
The curve of my daughter’s neck as she bends over her book, totally absorbed in the magic of a storyworld. The beginnings of a beard on my son’s cheek that mean that I’ve had the privilege of spending more years with him than some parents get with their children. My husband getting up early and bringing coffee back to our hotel room last weekend before I got out of bed.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as the clean scent of rain in the air, a stranger holding the door for me, or a beautiful piece of music.
In case you’re looking for a few things to be thankful for, one of my favorite magazines, Mental Floss, has put together a quick list of news stories that will give you five reasons to give thanks.Not to be outdone by the likes of Mental Floss, Reader’s Digest gives us 10 reasons to be thankful.
Need a little inspiration on the parenting front? This post has you covered. How about 41 reasons to be thankful for your spouse? Then there’s this story that reminds us all to be thankful for our homes and communities.
As for me, right now, I’m thankful that I’m privileged to have a warm home that will be filled with family, friends, and food tomorrow. I’m also thankful that I won’t be one of the millions of people dealing with travel amid messy winter weather this year.
With that, I wish you all safe travels and a Thanksgiving filled with joy…and thanks, of course.
This is one of my most favorite quotes.
“Be who are you and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~ Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel)
Why did he write that and what did he mean?
Well, of course, he wanted the project team to finish (and finish on time too). But at its core is this simple truth: everyone has ideas, but real artists deliver on them or ship them, as he put it.
In other words, ideas are not enough. Working on things or “making progress” is not enough. You have to ship. Put a different way:
If you want to call yourself an artist, you have to finish something and put it out in the world.
Of course, merely shipping something does not in and of itself make you an artist, but failing to finish and share what you create is usually not a path to artistry either.
When I came across this story, I immediately thought of writing. How many of us start on a story and never finish it? Or finish it and then can’t find the courage to share it? I know I’ve been guilty of both.
There is no shortage of ideas in the world – everyone has them – but many people falsely believe that the hard work is in generating the idea when in reality, the hard work is in bringing the idea to life.
You can see this belief at work when people worry about others stealing their idea for a novel (after all, the thief would then merely need to write the book), or when people wonder how hard it could possibly be to come up with X (a device, software, etc.) that just does Y (some “simple” thing).
What some don’t realize is that creating and shipping is the hardest part. It’s hard to do the work and put in the hours to convert an idea into something real. Sometimes, it’s even harder to put yourself or something you’ve made out there and subject it to the opinions and criticism of others.
There’s no such thing as free shipping in this context – it must be earned through effort. Shipping requires discipline, dedication, time, perseverance, and stamina in addition to the specialized knowledge and skills needed for the particular task. No matter how much of yourself you invest in making your idea real, the only way the world will learn about what you create – no matter if it’s good, bad, or indifferent – is if you’re brave enough to call it done and put it out there.
Last week, I put my money where my mouth is and shipped one of my short stories. I submitted it for publication to a few magazines, knowing that the odds are against me and that it will be hard to find a home for this particular story since it’s longer than most. Still, I figured, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
So what about you? Have you shipped anything lately? If so, leave me a comment – I’d love to hear about it!