Delirium for creativity

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Not too long ago, I was having a workshop with a few colleagues – all of whom are creative and thoughtful people who are willing to color with all the crayons in the box when it comes to throwing out new, different ideas. But for the most part, we are working in an environment where “innovation” and “creativity” is enforced – that is, we are required to be in a bunch of workshops where we are supposed to be creative on demand. Between noon and five, come up with all the ideas, as if ideas and creativity happen with a gun to your head or with deadlines. When you are in “work mode” you are also in a different frame of mind. Never mind that “corporate creativity” is a bit, um, unreal. (And company-mandated brainstorming shows no evidence of working or leading anywhere except to maybe wasted time.)

Apart from creativity and unusual ideas popping into my mind randomly and unexpectedly, I have learned that the weird, outlandish and sometimes best ideas come when I am deliriously tired. A Washington Post article I recently read about the best time of day to be creative captured this thinking.

“A key aspect of solving “insight” problems is being able to overcome an impasse in your head. To come up with an original idea or novel solution, in other words, we must be able to approach it from a different perspective. During our “non-optimal” times of day, we’re more influenced by distracting information, and are less blinded by an initial solution that, when we’re more clear-headed, might seem obvious but turns out to be wrong.”

Many people just have brains wired to think differently – they see the world in a completely different way. For the rest of us, we have to find other strategies for tapping into creativity. For me, exhaustion lowers all the rational boundaries in my head that would automatically discard ideas. And I should know – I push myself to exhaustion more often than any rational person should.

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