Read an Excerpt
Many people don't see themselves as creative because they don't have a huge audience. They think that creative activities have to be the big "C" creative acts associated with writing a novel or composing a symphony. They tend to overlook the many ways in which they display flair and imagination in their own lives. Maintaining such a narrow view of creativity leads them to conclude that creativity is a rare trait belonging to poets and artists and geniuses. But the chef is creative when she makes a variation on a souffl* recipe. A bricklayer is creative when he produces a different pattern. A guard is creative when he does the rounds in less time. Often, the only difference between the big "C" and the little "c" creative acts is the size of the audience.
Creative Cerebral Cuisine
Anyone who has dabbled in creative activities -- writing poems, composing jingles or even managing a project -- knows that things don't always work the first time around. Getting an idea right is a process that can take some time -- sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.
At the beginning of the process, you have an idea of your idea, a partly formed notion of what you want to have happen. You're not entirely sure what you're going to come up with. (If you did, you wouldn't actually be creating something new.) To develop that idea, you think in different ways, sometimes mentally walking around concepts, other times focusing on single approaches.
No single description or approach accurately describes what we do when we create. Throughout this book, we'll be using a variety of metaphors and analogies to explore the many facets of creative thought. One metaphor is particularly powerful and expressive:
Developing an idea is like cooking a meal.
The "preparing a meal for the mind" metaphor highlights several types of thinking which contribute to creative ideas. As a mental chef, you plan a menu, visit the idea market and gather a variety of fresh ingredients -- data and information. You clean and sort the ideas, separating the relevant from the irrelevant, then mix, blend and toss thoughts together, joining facts with hunches, speculations with observation. You cook, simmer and stew ideas, allowing juices and spices to mingle. In the end, if all goes well, you produce a well-cooked meal, ideas to nourish and satisfy.