Category: Inspiration

22
Jul

Imagine: How Creativity Works

I just finished the designer’s sweet heart book of the moment: Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. And if you couldn’t tell by all the sticky notes peeking out in this picture, I liked it quite a bit. Heaven knows I don’t need anything help being even more idealistic. But surprise, I read it anyway and am involuntarily inspired. ::jazz hands::

From the point I initially heard about it on the99percent to the time I actually held the book in my hands, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it. When it was first mentioned I was like yesallofthetimeplease—a book about the neurological process and trends of imagination?! On being creative? And as it was stewing on the back burner I kept hearing it mentioned more and more and became skeptical. I was starting to get jaded by all of the talks telling people to do this or that in order to A or B. A lot of anecdotes and designers in sharp outfits shrugging and saying emphatically “…and then it all just happened, for me. All of it.” I watched a lot of videos and read scads more articles and afterwards felt like “grit” and “creativity” were just new buzz words floating around the design community.

After a brief hiatus I watched this video.

Jonah Lehrer: The Origins of Creative Insight & Why You Need Grit from 99% on Vimeo.

Alright, sold. I order the book that same day.

It’s not a self-help book. It’s not a manual. Or, at least it didn’t feel like it to me. It was just a really enjoyable collection of studies and stories about creativity. In the same way that Oliver Sacks’ book Musicophilia isn’t a manual for being a musician (or, like his other books aren’t teaching you to think your spouse is a hat….). That isn’t to say you won’t be inspired by the ideas in the book and ruminate on the things you’ve read during your next project. While reading it, I kept writing to my creative friends (helllllloooo fellow humanity majors!) being like “Hey, this is you!” and considering my own creative process.

I ate up the beginning chapters about insight & epiphanies with a ladle. Adored reading about the dynamics of Pixar, reflecting on the co-working space my office is in and lamenting over my wall-flower nature.

I was especially moved by Lehrer’s description of WK12, NOOCA, and High Tech High. Things that Jacklynn loves = education. As someone who has always cherished going to school, it made me re-think about what my school was like. In these schools students focus on the creativity as a vocation. “Ideas have value.” Lehrer explains the supreme importance of free play for toddlers, for being allowed to be curious and creative through out our childhood and adolescence, in fact. Nurturing exploration and imagination as much as we do athletes in way the encourages thoughtfulness as a skill just as much as we celebrate physical prowess. I was fortunate enough to always see my classes as a launching pad and was always able to extract to value in learning about “when a ship sailed somewhere,” err…at the very least I was just excited to learn about it as anything else.

Thinking about it makes me restless. I know it’s absurd, but I want everyone to read the book and collectively start appreciating artistic pursuits. Being creative will lead to innovations in any field, sciences include, people!

But I’m not going to try to summarize the book here, I will just recommend it to you.