Uncreative ThinkingNov 05, 2021
Uncreative thinking, sometimes referred to as brainfart, happens when you can't think of anything at all; not even the tiniest of ideas. It's an occasional part of life that every person experiences at some point or another. Still, there are ways to minimise it and stop it from negatively affecting your creativity in the future. By the end of this article, you'll know how to keep uncreative thinking at bay and keep your thoughts flowing freely with creative inspiration.
Negativity - A Social Media Experiment
This is a pet hate, and I recently carried out a small experiment on social media. I have long been interested in hydrogen fuel cells. I know, but I studied (read my life story for more insight) Atomic Physics for a small while, so I don't come to the argument totally unqualified. During COP26, I posted questioning why there wasn't or indeed hadn't been, more funding for research into hydrogen fuel cells. This prompted quite a few reactions, from "Remember what happened to the Hindenburg" to the energy required to extract hydrogen in the first instance to the fact that reducing the volume of the gas is very difficult, and therefore storage is an issue. Instant negative points, very damaging to the development of this technology. We should be thinking about overcoming the challenges and not stopping at them.
Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Mobile Phones
In my lifetime, I have gone from a four-digit phone number, delivered by a wire from a large pole outside my house, shared with my next-door neighbour, through the equivalent of carrying a car battery slung over my shoulder with a handset attached, to a small device with more computing power, with several wireless functions, the actual connection, charging, tracking with a 1m accuracy and wire-free peripherals like headphones. All in less than 47 years. In comparison, the fuel cell was invented by Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829), a British chemist and inventor. In 1839 British scientist William Robert Grove (1811-1896) made the first fuel cell THAT WAS 182 YEARS AGO. Francis Thomas Bacon (1904-1992), also a British engineer, brought this fuel cell to a practical level, and it was used by NASA and, to some extent, helped facilitate the moon landings.
Negativity and negative comments are poisonous to creative thinking. Instantly killing the vibe. Yet human nature seems to be in a negative default status. I have no idea why? Are we managing expectations to avoid the disappointment of failure?
Have you ever spent several hours trying to come up with a great idea, but you just can't seem to? You start putting on more pressure, and when it happens—you get blocked by internal or external negative voices. Your mind goes blank. Suddenly, your creative faculties are gone. I think that's precisely what happened around the development of fuels cell. Humanity took the easier way out, and the internal combustion engine was built. In 1876, Nicolaus Otto, working with Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, patented the compressed charge, four-stroke cycle engine. This WAS 40 years after the first fuel cell engine was built. So I come back to my original thought. Shouldn't we, with an open mind, be looking for creative solutions to advance the hydrogen fuel cell for the good of humanity?
5 Obstacles That Prevent Creative Thinking
We all know creative thinking is essential, but it can be hard to do if you're facing one of these five obstacles. These are some of the things that people think to themselves when they're trying to be creative. Don't think of them! Instead, find a solution and let your creative juices flow freely.
1. Fear - of failure, of ridicule.
2. Stress - deadlines milestones fear.
3. Self Doubt - I cant solve this, imposter syndrome,
4. Belief - interesting but belief in the combustion engine stifled advancement of the fuel cell.
5. Rules and Restriction - working to a brief, being constrained, clients ethos.
Overcoming Creative Blocks
In a group context, a block is often another person, which will usually involve the interaction between you. Here techniques like Edward de Bono's 6 hats can be beneficial. Ultimately though, it's about trying to educate people into asking open questions or making constructive challenges.
"The Hindenburg disaster shows us hydrogen is dangerous and volatile." is the worst kind of full stop, shooting down in flames (ok sorry) kind of response."
The volatility and explosive nature is a perfectly valid point; of course, it needs to be raised. Better to so by asking.
"How do we overcome the issue of volatility? No one wants another Hindenburg" this is a question that shows unity and opens up a discussion. As it happens, the question has been asked and addressed with the development of "hydrogen storing alloy". But this isn't a physics lesson.
The really creative solutions are to use hydrogen as an energy store rather than a source of power.
I digress; I just want to illustrate that there's a way to address negativity, issues and criticism that isn't negative. Creativity demands honesty; gone unchallenged creativity can result in some pretty questionable end results. It is about how we challenge.
3 Questions To Ask Yourself When Stuck
When you're stuck in a rut, it can be challenging to come up with new ideas. However, armed with some basic questions, you can step out of your comfort zone and bring creativity back into your work. Ask yourself these three questions when you are faced with writer's block. You might even learn that some of your assumptions about creativity were false all along!
As soon as the ideas stop flowing, recognise that it's part of the process.
What shall we have for dinner? Distraction, a walk, a visit to a gallery, some gardening or chores that are in the back of your mind.
What is the title/name of this TVshow/Project/Product? Remembering "simple is good" and the need for a direct connection between the title and the expectation of others. "Who Want to Be a Millionaire," I do, it's a dream come true, and everything else just develops the idea. Anyone relates to the title, unlike "Cash Mountain", the original title of Millionaire.
iPad, ok, it's a long line of iXXX products, but given the genes from the iPod etc., an iPad is the 21 century equivalent of a notepad. The buyers want to know what it can do right off the block. Whereas the Sony Xperia Z4?"... is it a phone and what's is a Z4? unless you are already embedded in the Sony ecosystem, it means nothing. To answer question 2, if you can't, why can't you?
Is this just a great idea? In particular, in TV, so many great ideas don't sustain; in business, the equivalent is they don't scale. So often in TV, we say this idea is just a segment of another show because the concept is unrepeatable without boredom or repetition. It may be a brilliant idea, but it's not a 42m duration TV show. Deal with it and move on. One day you may crack it, and it becomes a show, so don't throw the idea away, may back burner is vast.
There are a lot of books on being creative that focus on boosting your inspiration, and there's nothing wrong with those. But many of us don't want to wait for inspiration to strike; we just want to be more creative in our day-to-day lives. Be positive, learn how to ask yourself open questions, teach others to ask you open questions. Don't beat yourself up. But remember how structure helps. Eliminate stress with structure and honesty and face issues; do not bury them. Openness and honesty with yourself are the beginnings of creative thinking. And finally, invent an alternative viewpoint. If I were landing from Mars, what would I make of this idea?
Above all else, enjoy creative thinking, it is brilliant, and it needs practice.