Note: Where you start the creative process does not always determine where you end up. For this assignment, When do you do your best thinking blurt became How do I put my unconscious mind to work in creative problem solving. Here is a look at my creative process:
Step one: Give yourself an assignment. My tips for making it productive and not something that keeps me up all night? Make it simple. I don’t set an intention that I am going to wake up with THE ANSWER. I look for insight. Insight is unformed, unstructured, open to interpretation and exploration. When I awoke with the words “When do you do your best thinking”, I didn’t attach to them.
Step two: Notice your thoughts and get curious. For me, the blurts themselves are always clear bullet points. While I don’t literally hear them, they are so distinct and compact, my brain registers them as different, more punctuated than the typical mind chatter, or random thoughts. I treat that clarity as an invitation…a starting point to free associate. Here are some questions that came to mind this morning when I played with this blurt: “Wonder when others do their best thinking?” “Is this about when I do my best thinking or how I can give myself night-time assignments?” “What are the steps I use and can I describe them?” “If I talk about blurts…will people think I am crazy?”. “I have a dozen ways of downloading thoughts and ideas. Shall I talk about all of them…some of them…is this off the subject?” “Does everybody do this?” “I record blurts in my dream journal next to my bed and journal about them for insights from my unconscious. Sometimes these insights help me notice things that my conscious mind hasn’t paid attention to.” “Not everyone downloads all of their creative thoughts…without writing things down, we forget significant material that may prove useful later in another context.”
Each of these thoughts had the potential to shape the narrative for this post. There are many possibilities when I get curious about the blurt.
Step three: Pick a thread. This morning, I decided to go start with “how I use my unconscious for creative thinking”. I made a mental note of some steps I could articulate.
Step four: Download. In addition to the steps in this post, I captured other thoughts that are not relevant to the post. I jotted them all down. Normally, I write this stuff stream of consciousness in my journal. My journal is a repository for many half-baked ideas, blurts and insights. Downloading them all captures future building blocks.
Step five: What is here I can use? Choose one thing. In this case it wasn’t the first thing. Instead, I chose something I hope has more value for you–a glimpse into the messy but at the same time structured process I use to tap my imagination. I download or record everything with no editing or self censoring…then, simply select. I don’t throw away the other stuff…it may or may not come in handy later.
Step six: No attachment. It is all useful. It is all disposable. Take what you have selected that seems to work together, write a story.
Step seven: Take a break. Walk away for a bit and let it sit.
Step eight: Edit out what doesn’t fit the story and save it for later. Polish.
Step nine: Step back, take a big picture look at what have I created? What is my headline. What is the story?
What is the big picture here? Use these same steps for creative problem solving. Let me recap them for you then you can decide how you want to
put them together in a way that suits you.
- Give yourself an assignment at a time when you do your best imagining. Let your unconscious mind do its thing. Some people find they imagine best while they are walking, or exercising, or sleeping. (I learned not to do this while driving. I have missed more than one exit while problem solving.) What do all of these have in common? Be in a relaxed state where your mind is free to wander.
- Get curious. If you start out looking for “the answer” you may get one…but is it the one that will serve you best? Hang out and get curious, simply follow your thoughts and get curious about what else?
- Download everything. Take the time to WRITE IT ALL DOWN. You will have nuggets of stuff, potential building blocks that may come in handy later.
- Pick a thread. Anyone will do. You can change along the way. What is here that I want to use?
- What is the story? Big picture context?
- Walk away, let it rest before coming back to polish and share
Do you give yourself the quiet time, the space to be creative?
Have you discovered a process that supports your creativity?
Comment about your process you’d like to share?