Creative Something

Articles tagged “ideas”

Creativity is a cup of jelly beans


Imagine that you have a transparent, plastic cup placed in front of you and thousand of brightly colored jelly beans off to the side of it.

Your job is to fill the cup up. You take one jelly bean at a time and place it into the cup, one after another stacking them sporadically until the cup is a mess of color.

When the filled cup is held in front of you, all you can see is the color of the beans on the outside, right? As you spin the cup in your hand you can see the other colors of the jelly beans that dot the inner perimeter as well. Maybe, if you try hard enough, you can make out the faint colors of jelly beans behind the outer most ones.

What happened to the jelly beans at the center of the cup? They’re there, undoubtedly, but what colors are they?

This is how creativity in the mind works. Every day new thoughts and ideas fill our brains, in the form of our senses reacting to our experiences. Our eyes alone send hundreds of thousands of signals to our brain every second.

To be creative is to ask what color of “jelly beans” have been tucked away in the center of our minds.

Back in front of our imaginary cup, you have to shake it up in order to move all the beans around and see what’s inside. The brain, too, needs to be mentally shaken (not physically) in order to uncover what’s hidden away inside.

By asking questions that start with “what if?”, “how would?” and “why?” we shake the ideas in our brain in order to see what other ideas have been hidden beneath. By adjusting our perspective, rattling our knowledge, exploring new and exciting areas, that’s how we shake our mental jar of beans.

It’s through uncovering those hidden ideas, by shaking our thoughts, that new insights become available to us.

Sure, you could be content to admire the ideas on the perimeter, but if you instead wonder what’s inside, you’re bound to find a lot more color.


How to be creative on the spot

Asking the right questions to invoke creativity

The perfect formula for creativity

Photo by Steve Koukoulas.

“Inaction leads to failure more often than wrong action.”

Morgan Newman from Inc’s How to not drown in ideas.

Posted at 10:42 am

Creativity takes guts


Hoping that your next idea is the next big idea is silly.

Yet we so often find ourselves working on, or seeking out, ideas that are perfect, ideal, better than anything else out there (at least in our mind).

The result is either failure to start or a failure to launch, both of which come about as a result of fear. Of course, when this happens we fail to discover whether our ideas really were worthwhile or possibly the next big idea. We fear our ideas may not be valuable, so we don’t make them real, which makes it impossible to determine whether the ideas were worthwhile or not. Silly, right?

To get an idea out of our heads and into the world takes work, yes, it also requires that you have an idea to begin with. Hopefully the idea is at least somewhat worthwhile, it’s certainly possible that the idea really is the next best thing. But more importantly: creativity takes guts.

What if nobody likes this? Why would anyone care if they knew anyone else could do the same thing? What makes this special? Is this really better than what already exists? Who am I to make this a reality?

We face these questions any time an idea pops into our heads, big or small. But the best ideas – the wonder breads, the Facebooks, the automobiles – all started as just another idea, not something to change the world or inspire millions. All ideas start the same, whether we believe they do or not.

The first personal computer was never intended to evolve into the iPhones and Android phones we have today. The first aircraft wasn’t intended to be a way for transporting products or medical aid across the world overnight. Picasso began sketching out Portrait of Igor Stravinsky because he enjoyed doing it, not because he wanted it to become a historically remarkable work of art.

When I started Creative Something, my goal was to research creativity and share what I discovered, in the hopes that someone, somewhere, would find it inspiring. Today the blog has 100,000 subscribers, but that’s never something I imagined nearly seven years ago when the project began.

My point is this: You don’t need to come up with the next big idea. Your ideas don’t need to be the best, or even your best. What’s more important is that you have ideas, and that you have the guts to see them through.

You won’t know what your ideas can become until you get them onto the canvas, captured on film, somehow out in front of the world. That’s what matters.


Starting and the fear of breaking things

A note on creating something imperfect

Poster: Ideas are worthless until you get them out of your head to see what they can do

Fear of the critical finish line

When can you call yourself creative?

Photo by Nicki Varkevisser.

You could have big ideas too


I could never come up with that idea.

Garbage. Yes, you could have.

You could have come up with any idea, if you had the right frame of mind, the experiences necessary to envision it, and the energy to see it through. It doesn’t necessarily matter where you are or what you do, you could have come up with the idea if you were looking for it to begin with.

You’ve got everything it takes to come up with even the most brilliant ideas – it’s all right between your ears.

Any idea that exists in the world today could have come from your mind. It’s not that you’re not intelligent enough, resourceful enough, or creative enough.

Yes, to a notable degree, you aren’t likely to come up with the next rocket booster if you don’t work in rocket science. But that doesn’t mean your mind isn’t capable of it. It’s simply a matter of environment and interest.

It’s a dangerous thought, to believe you can’t come up with ideas like those we idolize in the media or news. In doing so, you set yourself up to not have the ideas right from the start, not allowing yourself the chance to even try.

To solve creative problems, to have “those” ideas, you have to first believe you can, you have to use what you have now, and you have to have the courage to look at the world inside-out, upside-down, and rightside-left.

Yes, you absolutely could have those bigger ideas, but you have to start thinking differently about the problems they solve to begin with.

No excuses.

Light Bulb designed by Scott Lewis from the Noun Project.

“Everybody who does creative work has figured out how to deal with their own demons to get their work done. There is no evidence that setting up your easel like Van Gogh makes you paint better.”

Seth Godin in Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

Posted at 12:51 pm

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“The best ideas…” (Hint: let it load.)


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