I rattle on, often, about this idea I have that you can build a framework of support around creative endeavors for the sole purpose of encouraging prolific productivity.
The infrastructure provides help for a creative thinker to make progress. She will collect observations, ask questions about those things she notices, investigate answers, and then form a result.
So there are four categories of activities she will pursue:
- observe (generates notes)
- wonder (generates questions)
- tinker (generates experiments and more notes)
- build (generates answers)
The activities she completes in each of these phases may be very similar to each other; this makes it difficult to figure out in which phase she might be engaging. Furthermore, she may be moving up and down that list very rapidly so that her steps are not easily discernible. (I have come to believe that each of these steps is discrete, however. I must allow for the creativity framework to only be expressed as a serial operation and say that at any given moment, an artist may only be in one phase. More on this in a future post.)
But what do we care about? What will she have to show for all of her creative activity? At the end of the day, she is either rambling around or she is doing something that is contributing positively to her spheres of influence.
The ability to move a project into and through the build phase is the single difference between somebody who accomplishes and somebody who flakes. (I must confess. I believe I am in the flakey category, currently – at the very least, as it pertains to my creative pursuits). Moreover, doing this rapidly makes you prolific, and doing this across a variety of topic areas makes you a polymath.
Being conscious of this overarching goal – to build… to iterate… to answer questions about my world through whatever creative output that might embody, is the objective of having a creativity framework.
Example: Backing up my computer
- Observe: I noticed that my hard drive exploded on my earlier this year and my backup system wasn’t up to par. The data recovery was very expensive
- Wonder: How do I setup a backup system for my computers?
- Tinker: Surf the web looking for articles about backup. Tag these in del.icio.us
- Tinker: Make sketches in my notebook of various hard drives and their connectivity, backup schedule, etc.
- Build: Download, install, and configure backup management tools and run my system for a while
- Observe: I forget to swap out my external drives often. My system requires it too much.
- Wonder: How do I tweak my backup system so that I don’t have to rely on myself to swap out external drives often
- Tinker: Surf the web looking for ways to minimize manually drive swapping out of backup solution
- Tinker: Think about problem as I’m riding my bike.
- Wonder: Eureka moment! Will using rsync solve this problem?
- Tinker: research how to run rsync
- Wonder: What do I do when machines lose connectivity?
- Wonder: Could I just pay a host to backup for me? They are always connected!
- Tinker: research hosted backup solutions
- Build: Hosted Backup is too expensive for me
- Tinker: sketch diagram in notebook that describes a system which uses rsync as an answer, but does not have a high impact should the connectivity of a device cause a missed cycle
- Build: add rsync tweaks to backup system
This example shows that a prolific creative person will iterate over builds (i.e. get something out there as a version and then make changes if it’s not working). As part of tinkering, she will throw away ideas that aren’t working, also.
###Another (ongoing) example:
- Wonder: Is this post appropriately marked in the Tinker category?”
- Tinker: Perhaps this post is marked “Tinker” because it’s a draft of my creativity framework thoughts.
- Tinker: However, it might also fit into “Wonder” because it’s just a hypothesis and I have not run enough experiments on the idea to see if it works.
- Tinker: It could also go into into “build” because the post itself is definitely an iteration of my thoughts about the creativity framework
- Tinker: I don’t think it’s in “Observe” because that’s more passive. Observation just happens, but tinkering is more active.