Anger boosts creativity but you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry

Wednesday, 7 September, 2011

Anger has been found to boost creativity in some situations, but usually only for a limited time. Use sparingly I would think, it’s sure to be a double-edged sword.

Why does anger have this effect on the imagination? I think the answer is still unclear – we’re only beginning to understand how moods influence cognition. But my own sense is that anger is deeply stimulating and energizing. It’s a burst of adrenaline that allows us to dig a little deeper, to get beyond the usual superficial free-associations. In contrast, when our mood is neutral or content, there is no incentive to embrace unfamiliar possibilities, to engage in mental risks or brash new concepts. (Why rock the boat?) The absence of criticism has kept us in the same place. And this is why anger makes it easier to think different.

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Creative cultures thrive in the absence of rules and meetings

Wednesday, 24 August, 2011

Ben Chestnut, founder of Mailchimp, which powers disassociated’s announcement list by the way, sets out the five conditions that he sees as being conducive to a creative workplace.

Meetings are a necessary evil, but you can avoid the conference room and meet people in the halls, the water cooler, or their desks. Make meetings less about delegation and task management and more about cross-pollination of ideas (especially the weird ideas). This is a lot harder than centralized, top-down meetings. But this is your job – deal with it.

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Learn to crave boredom, which as it happens, isn’t all that boring

Tuesday, 16 August, 2011

Smartphones and tablet devices have all but eliminated boredom… as long as you’re within range of a base-station you need never be without the reassuring stimulation that comes by way of social networks and the internet. All of this constant, boredom destroying, invigoration may not however be doing our creativity much good.

Experts say our brains need boredom so we can process thoughts and be creative. I think they’re right. I’ve noticed that my best ideas always bubble up when the outside world fails in its primary job of frightening, wounding or entertaining me. I make my living being creative and have always assumed that my potential was inherited from my parents. But for allowing my creativity to flourish, I have to credit the soul-crushing boredom of my childhood.

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Creativity is not magic… it’s often a cleverly reworked copy

Tuesday, 28 June, 2011

Everyone starts out copying… the third part of the Everything is a Remix video series by Kirby Ferguson examining the roles that influence, and the earlier work of other people, plays in creativity.

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Where do all the best love songs come from? Broken relationships

Friday, 13 May, 2011

Happy, stable, relationships could be an impediment for musicians and song writers… many find the quality of their work declines without the angst that accompanies being lovelorn.

Is turmoil a necessary ingredient for artistic success? Quite a few musicians I spoke to worry that peace in their personal lives robbed them of their creative spark. Most of them listed artists they admire whose work suffered when they married. Muzzey expressly wonders whether a happy, stable relationship might jeopardise his financial success. The male songwriters and composers spoke of the creative influence of tension and conflict, and one even mentioned rage

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Creativity is a craft that takes years to hone

Tuesday, 3 May, 2011

US broadcaster Ira Glass on the frustrations of starting out in any creative line of work:

For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this.

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The highly eccentric conduct of creative people

Wednesday, 20 April, 2011

Highly creative people also tend to be reasonably eccentric, but I didn’t realise just how quirky some of the world’s greatest intellects were

Albert Einstein picked up cigarette butts off the street to get tobacco for his pipe; Howard Hughes spent entire days on a chair in the middle of the supposedly germ-free zone of his Beverly Hills Hotel suite; the composer Robert Schumann believed that his musical compositions were dictated to him by Beethoven and other deceased luminaries from their tombs; and Charles Dickens is said to have fended off imaginary urchins with his umbrella as he walked the streets of London.

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Even good storytelling adheres to a scientific formula

Monday, 18 April, 2011

The Periodic Table of Storytelling… makes sense since there is probably a science to good storytelling.

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A thief copies an artist steals, otherwise this life is nine to five

Tuesday, 12 April, 2011

I don’t count myself as being remotely artistic but Austin Kleon’s article How To Steal Like An Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me), about how artists often really live and work still makes for educational reading.

As Flaubert said, “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” I’m a boring guy with a 9-5 job who lives in a quiet neighborhood with his wife and his dog. That whole romantic image of the bohemian artist doing drugs and running around and sleeping with everyone is played out. It’s for the superhuman and the people who want to die young. The thing is: art takes a lot of energy to make. You don’t have that energy if you waste it on other stuff.

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Teaching imagination more important than teaching knowledge

Thursday, 31 March, 2011

Stanford University’s d.school, or the the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, in what seems like a refreshing departure from the outlook of many of educational institutions, teaches students how to use their imagination to find solutions to a variety of design, and other, problems.

The d.school’s defining mission is to foment personal transformation. Founder David Kelley, a guru of ingenuity and intuition, loves any scenario in which students are collaborating, the more radically the better, and prototyping their imagined solutions using everything from mallets and pliers to cameras and laptops. It all falls under the rubric of “design thinking.” Students who absorb that method, says Kelley with a gregarious twinkle, can apply it to nearly any part of their lives, from finding a suitable spouse to throwing a killer dinner party.

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