A Regular Column by Anthony D. Fredericks
Creativity vs. Logic
Too often, we think logically. Our education and experiences have taught us that logical thinking is planned, systematic, and dependable. That’s true, but too much logical thinking crushes our creative instincts and frequently prevents the generation of unique and signature ideas. We often sacrifice creativity for efficiency.
One of the best ways to break yourself from this over-emphasis on logic is to practice creating alternative uses for common objects. For example, let’s assume you are wearing a pair of socks. What are some other alternate uses for socks? Here are a few I came up with: A cover for your golf clubs, hand warmers on a cold morning walk, keep your dog’s legs warm when you take him outside, a protective “bag” to carry eggs. Use them to dry the dishes or to create a surrealistic mural on your living room wall (dip them into paint and be your own “Salvador Dali”). You also have a set of puppets to tell a story to your child – draw a face on each one and create your own story characters. Cut the end off each one and slide the ends over your ears in the winter: inexpensive ear warmers. Or, slip an old one over your hand to clean off the side-view mirrors on your car.
So, here’s your challenge. Identify a common object at home or your place of work (e.g. pencil, file folder, broom, screwdriver, bottle, shoelace, etc.). See if you can conjure at least 20 different uses for that item. If you want, pick your own two-digit number (e.g. 23, 17, 44). Generate as many possibilities as you can within a designated period (e.g. five minutes, ten minutes). You, like me, will most likely discover that you have set your mind on fire – breaking it out of its more familiar thinking (logical) patterns and setting it free to examine new ideas and new possibilities.
If you’re the competitive type, do this activity with a friend or colleague. Who can come up with the most alternative uses (for a piece of copper wire, a coffee filter, a cereal bowl, or a tennis ball [for example] in five minutes? You will be amazed at what transpires.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
– Albert Einstein
Dr. Anthony D. Fredericks is an award-winning author of more than 170 books, including the highly anticipated From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them (January 2, 2022) as well as five other Blue River Press titles (e.g. The Adjunct Professor’s Complete Guide to Teaching College). He also pens a regular blog (“Creative Insights”) for Psychology Today.com (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/contributors/anthony-d-fredericks-edd)
A Regular Column by Anthony D. Fredericks
Who’s the most creative person in the world? A four-year-old child, of course. Kids are known for asking an endless array of questions (“Why is the sky blue?” “How do birds fly?” “Where do babies come from?”). But, by the time that four-year-old has turned into a nine-year-old, his natural creativity has been significantly reduced. And, then, that nine-year-old grows up into a 22-year-old, graduates from college, gets a job, and discovers that his once dynamic creative spirit has completely fizzled.
Simply put, our natural sense of creativity has been swept out of our minds by a system of societal myths, educational practices, workplace habits, and everyday expectations more focused on conformity than on fostering creative expression. We have not been trained to generate a plethora of creative solutions when faced with intellectual challenges. In so many ways, our thinking has become “McDonald’s-ized” – it’s standardized and predictable. “Thinking outside the box” is not what we do well.
The big unanswered question is: What causes us to be “non-creative?” We were creative souls when we were young; but, now, as adults, we find ourselves wrestling with challenges that demand innovation; but often discover that our creative “wells” have dried up. Why? Interestingly, it’s a query never asked before; and, even more important, one never answered in all the “How to Be More Creative” books (more than 60,000 published) and all the “Becoming a More Creative Person” articles (more than two billion on Google) currently available.
Three years ago, I set out to write From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them! It is both an examination of the unseen powers that impede our creativity and, also about how those all-too-powerful influences can be curtailed and eliminated. The ultimate truth is that an understanding of creativity is also an understanding of mystifying obstacles – the miseducation, societal impediments, and workplace practices that negatively influence our creative spirit. Ultimately, knowing the barriers (the diagnosis) to creative thought prior to implementing dynamic creativity strategies (the prescription) can help make those changes more effective and long-lasting.
From Fizzle to Sizzle is a book about persistent pressures…and how they can be forever nullified. We’ll examine the influence of those forces in future editions of this blog…along with several creative “game-changers.” Stay tuned – there are amazing adventures along the way!
Creativity is intelligence having fun.
– Albert Einstein
Dr. Anthony D. Fredericks is Professor Emeritus of Education at York College of Pennsylvania. He is an award-winning author of more than 170 books, including the highly anticipated From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them (January 2, 2022) as well as five other Blue River Press titles (e.g. Writing Children’s Books: Everything You Need to Know From Story Creation to Getting Published ). He also pens a regular blog (“Creative Insights”) for Psychology Today.com. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/contributors/anthony-d-fredericks-edd