Creative Process

My business coach asked me what my process is. I started thinking about my workshop process, how I structure the LEGO® Serious Play® workshops to capture the information that people are looking for. What questions I ask and how often we meet. Stuff like that.

But as I was thinking about my business process, I started thinking about my creative process. How do I come up with new ideas? How do I help other people come up with new ideas? I seem to have a few methods:

1. I hold open space somewhere in the back of my head while I look at things. I don’t consciously manipulate things, just let them go back there to marinate. Could be art, or reuseable materials (I love the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse!), or costumes (we went to the SF Opera’s costume sale last weekend) or house tours. I let the things I see inform what I want to do. It’s a very inexact, unstructured, and unreliable way to bring things in to my head, but also fun. I usually feel excited about the possibilities in front of me.

2. I brainstorm. I toss ideas back and forth, list everything that might possibly relate, figure out a back story or a future story, work with if/than, build a world where everything fits. I ask why and how. I love doing this with my husband, we have been known to create an alien world out of an alien that resembles frogs, or sea turtles, or birds. This is much better done with someone else, since each person’s ideas can spark new ideas in the other.

3. I take pieces and put them together until they feel right. I do this most of all. When I make beaded necklaces, I need all my beads out so I can figure out which ones go together. When I write a dance I figure out which steps need to go next to which other steps. When I build with LEGO® bricks I pick up blocks and move them around until I make something that seems to speak to me.

I realized in all of this that #1 and #2 are just feeding #3. I need to come up with the pieces that I move around, and I do that partly by looking for inspiration. I need to create pieces, so I brainstorm until I have pieces that are helpful. And then I move the pieces around until they seem to fit.

I have read quotes that said that creative people don’t really think they’re creative, they just see connections between things that were always there, but no one saw them before. And I guess that’s true for me too. I don’t always think what I do is that brilliant, I just go with what I see in front of me. (I used part of a blazer in a craft project and had too much left to throw away. So I cut of the sleeve and turned it into a small purse. It just seemed obvious. But I got much praise for it. Odd.)

I do this all the time, innately, automatically. I can help you do it too.

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