Tuesday, December 30, 2014

More Creativity Questions

Vicki's comment raises new questions about creativity.

Is creativity always play? An electrical engineer told me about the regimen he'd established when he encountered a problem at work. Before he went to bed, he restated the problem, then purposefully thought no more about it until the next morning when he was shaving. Then he opened his mind to whatever thoughts arose, with the rule that he would discard no solution, no matter how crazy or unrelated it seemed to be. Being an engineer, he had established strict rules for problem-solving, but he had learned to abandon all the rules - those he'd been taught, those that had worked in the past - while he shaved.

At the time, he was working on a higher-definition camera for television. To create is to bring something new into being. So it makes sense that, at some point in the development of that camera, the rules that governed how any previous camera worked had to be changed or discarded.

It's at that moment when we abandon what we know (or have been taught) is true, that the creative breakthrough comes. And it's scary.

When I was developing my vocal method, it occurred to me one day that everything I'd been taught, everything I'd ever read about a singer's breathing had to be wrong: we don't have voluntary control of the abdominal diaphragm. I immediately panicked: Who am I to dispute accepted knowledge? I spent the following two weeks trying to disprove my new theory, before I could begin to develop the scientific basis for a different way of breathing.

I've seen that scary moment often enough in students to believe that it may be a necessary component in creativity. The day they walk into a session with "I can't," "I'll never be able to," is breakthrough day - the day that they abandon what they know or have assumed to be true and float free of their old rules.

Yes, Vicki's right that their immediate responses are hope and joy. But change is frightening. Taking that next step into freedom is a challenge.

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