The Internet as a creativity killer

When Seizam.com reached out to sponsor the blog this week they also proposed an article about the pros and cons of utiziliing the web for creative inspiration. I thought the idea was great, so here’s Clément Dietschy of Seizam and his thoughts on the web as a creativity killer.

As creatives, we travel the web often in search of inspiration and ideas, but should we?

We go around reading, listening, watching, and everywhere we find great content. Content which can inspire our next creation, wikis which teaches us how we will make them happen, or social networks to share and discuss them once done. Great.

But have we fully considered the damages browsing the web can cause?

First, there is group thinking. One could argue that consensus is a great democratic achievement, but when it comes to creativity, it can more often than not, become a pain point. As the communal nature of the Internet tends to favor the majority, we the creators, who are by definition a minority, have to be careful not to be drown by the mainstream buzz. So, when looking to be creative online, beware of the broader feedback derived from that content.

Then, there is criticism. As we question our ideas and worry about our skills, the Internet can be a very discouraging place.

There are so many great projects out there that when we compare our work to what we see, we often feel “below par” with others. But feeling like lesser of a creative can be a good thing. Feeling judged and criticized, even self-criticized, can be natural and healthy. Doubt is actually an important part of the innovative process, it shows us where we can improve and can often spark new ideas. Just remember to treat criticism as a step and not as a state.

Third, there is dependance. The more we make a habit of using the web for creative inspiration, the tighter the bond between it and our creativity becomes.

Let’s face it, we rely on the Internet quite a lot. Could we still be creative without it? To make sure, make another habit: work away from the screen from time to time – one hour a day, one day a week, one month a year. Remind yourself that you are creative without the hustle of the web.

All of this said, the Internet is still a much more beneficial place than it is a problem for creatives. As long as we’re aware of potential problems and realize how much we receive from it and how much we sacrifice for it.

Clément Dietschy is editor of the blog David Can Win and founder of Seizam.



Meet Drwer, the simplest drawing app ever

I’m so excited about this new app.

Drwer is available today for your iPhone and iPad, and is undoubtedly the simplest drawing app available. With Drwer you can sketch and draw without worrying over options or unnecessary filters. There’s nothing to stand in your way.

You simply open up the app and start drawing, just like that.

Plus you can save your sketches right to your photo library, where you can email or text them, or share them on Facebook or Twitter. It’s so simple. If you’re an artist this is a must-have app to use daily. If you’re a designer, writer, marketer, blogger, anything creative really, this is an app you’re going to love.

You can download it right here.

Be sure to leave a review if you like it, and share a link to it with your friends. This is the easiest way to quickly draw things on the go, anywhere you are. I think you’re going to love it.



Tips for creative brainstorming

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In 1953 advertising executive Alex Faickney published Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem Solving, a book in which he shared various insights he had learned about creative thinking while working at one of the largest ad agencies in the United States, BBDO.

One of the creative strategies Alex shared in Applied Imagination was that of group brainstorming. The idea of getting a number of people together in a room to brainstorm ideas was big with Alex because of a number of test groups he ran.

Despite Alex’s optimism for it, group brainstorming doesn’t really work.

Even with the difficulties spurred by group brainstorming (the illusion of group productivity, members feeling as though their ideas aren’t worthwhile, and more), brainstorming itself is something that is very much worthwhile, and something Alex understood.

In order to effectively think creatively, Alex believed, you have to follow two basic principals: first, defer judgement. And two, focus on quantity.

Judgement hinders possibilities. It’s the exact opposite mode of thinking than creativity because it focuses on evaluating what already exists, whereas creativity focuses on the generating of something new. Focusing on quantity is a surefire way to have good ideas.

There are two additional methods for brainstorming that are very much worth exercising.

Embracing unusual ideas is a remarkable way to increase the quantity of ideas (which, you’ll recall, is our focus). Unusual ideas are often spurred from new perspectives or random association. Whatever it takes, welcome unusual ideas (defer judgment).

Lastly, if you want to be successful at brainstorming, do what all of great inventors do: combine ideas.

All of these methods – focus on quantity, defer judgement, embracing unusual ideas, and combining existing ideas – feed into one another and are the simplest way to brainstorm more ideas.

The next time you need to brainstorm, be sure to do it on your own (you can combine ideas as a group later on) and follow these guidelines. And for more great insights into brainstorming and ideation, checkout this old interview with Ze Frank on Imaginary Audiences.

Photo by Oliver Thompson.



Doing

Creativity is not all about changing the world or pushing boundaries.

It’s not centered on breaking the status quo or creating some timeless invention. There are no desperate leaps towards some great future. New ideas are not sought merely for the sake of having new ideas. Good ideas are not the result of escaping routine.

No, if you were to ask any true creative – the artist, singer, dancer, poet, sculptor, programmer, writer, video game maker, whatever – what drives them to be creative, they would not describe their tireless pursuit of perfection or some vision of escaping “the norm”.

Instead, they would tell you of their passion for doing.

That’s what creative thinking is really about. It’s doing what you love, because you love it. It’s an inherent curiosity about the world, ideas, and the very act of doing.

To truly be creative (in any field, for anyone) you have to be passionately curious. Enough to stay up all night to find solutions to a problem, or to give every spare minute of your day to finishing a project whether it’s right or wrong, or to stand tall in the face of the daunting status quo and shout “Just watch me!”



Forget about left brain right brain

Have you heard this before? That one side of the human brain is responsible for creative thinking while the other is more logical and reasoning-oriented?

It’s not true.

The brain is certainly split (physically), but connections and various computations related to creativity or logic both take place across various parts of it, not just one side or the other.

This differentiation exists because it’s easier for many people to understand the brain that way. We do seemingly have two sides to our thinking (one that’s very rational, based on logic, the other that’s more wild and creative), but the fact is that both sides of the brain work very much alike (with the exception of language being primarily activated in the left hemisphere).

When someone is acting creative they’re firing up various parts of their brain that everyone else has too. Unsurprisingly, creativity is very much a learned trait as it is an inherent capability of the brain. It’s like learning to draw, or sing, or program a computer game. When you’re creative you are actually using various parts of your brain (all of the parts associated with the ideas or topics you’re focused on, actually).

The real brain lateralization lies in forward and backward parts of it. It’s the prefrontal cortex in the front of your brain that is responsible for high-level, executive tasks such as goal setting and making decisions. While the back of your brain, the occipital cortex, is reserved primarily for vision-related processes.

And now you know.

Original photo by Andy Powell. Hat tip to Paul King for clarifying for all of us.