They did a little retrospective this morning on the CBS Morning Show about Andy Rooney who just passed away last week. I always enjoyed his commentaries, (a fellow curmudgeon bond) and I can only hope that I might still be commenting on the state of things at 92 years old. He did not suffer fools gladly, and one his pet peeves was that people often asked him how he could keep coming up with ideas for his writing. His response was along the lines of “How stupid is that? With all there is going on in the world you would have to ask about finding ideas?” He had a point – there is a universe of great ideas out there, and some people seem to be effortlessly plugged into it. If you are one of them, congratulations, if not – well, welcome to the rest of the world.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
Generating fresh ideas can be difficult for anyone, however it can be a particularly thorny problem in a creative business – but only if you let it. If you read many of these posts you will know that I am a big proponent of innovation, in fact I would say that particular skill may be the single most important factor in the long term success of a licensing artist. And the beauty is – it’s a teachable skill, not just a gift. Researchers have learned that the creative process is much more systematic than previously believed, and you can learn how to better access those parts of your brain. Much work has been done on how to teach creativity by everyone from academia to corporations to the military – and it’s all out there for the taking. A Whack Upside the Head, Thinkertoys, Cats, The Art of Innovation, Creative Intelligence, and about a thousand other books are devoted to teaching you how to find and exercise your creative muscle. Which is how you should try looking at it – it’s a muscle like any other that needs training and regular exercise to be at its optimum, and like any muscle in training, the more you work it the easier it gets.