Creativity, Jobs and Rubik’s cubes.

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” – Steve Jobs

I know I’ve definitely shared this quote on here in the past. And, let’s face it, who hasn’t shared a Steve Jobs quote at some point in their life.

Yet it just rings so true. To me, at least.

When you’re trying to create something and get it right it can be so frustrating.

The words won’t quite flow, the image doesn’t quite look right etc.

And then suddenly you have that moment of realisation and you make a connection. One that was there all along, but you’d just not quite noticed.

Creativity is like a Rubik’s cube – without the formulas that make Rubik’s cubes easy.

Minidisc players and the idea in you

 

A few months ago my cousin was clearing a few of his old things out from his parents’ house.

He came away with a small box of items that had meant a lot to him as a youngster.

Among these trinkets was his old minidisc player.

For a short while in the early noughties, minidiscs were supposed to be the next big thing.
Their popularity soon stifled though, as digital recording and playback became the norm – lost to a generation of people who didn’t want to have physical copies of their music. (Ironically though, with the resurrection of vinyl, this is tilting the other way).

For a short while the minidisc had been his very favourite thing. With an air of nostalgia he turned it on and listened to the disc that was inside – a tune that hadn’t been played for over a decade.

He remarked simply, yet philosophically, on how it was weird that one day he’d just turned it off and never used it again – only for it to turn up some fifteen years later.

How often do you have that with a thought or an idea? All that thinking about something, only to switch off and forget about it.

Ideas aren’t physical things, such as minidisc players. If you lose them it’s much harder to get them back.

As a creative I always used to, annoyingly, have my best ideas when I wasn’t able to write.

The novels, the stories and the concepts that I’d come up with…usually when I was driving or in the gym…right at the time when my laptop was out of reach!

I used to think to myself – ‘I’ll come back to that idea when I get a sec’.

I never did though. Because the enthusiasm for the idea would disappear before I could touch methaphorical pen to metaphorical paper.

So now I carry a notepad with me at all times. So I’m never caught out. I can jot down my ideas whenever and wherever.

I think this is a better option that writing it on my phone. My phone is a bustling hub of distractions…and a big reason of ‘why I didn’t write today’.

I also invested in an expensive notepad. Not because I’m materialistic. But, because I figure that…the more I pay for something, the more naturally valuable it seems and the more likely I’ll be to use it.

Unlike that minidisc player, it’s unlikely that your ideas will come back to you. So have something with you at all times to note them down.

Before you know it, your notebook will become a goldmine of creativity.

I know it seems simple, obvious even, but yet so many people let their ideas slip away.

The writer Robert Louis Stevenson reckoned that ‘Treasure Island’ was born from a couple of dreams that he had.

He also remarked that, had he not have had a pen (or quill back then) by his bed, he’d have forgotten the idea before he could have converted it into a story.

Don’t let your ideas walk the plank…take note of them!

(image credit: wikipedia)

The Purloined Letter: how Edgar Allen Poe can help you with your creativity

We’re pretty advanced these days.

Particularly our thought processes.

The things we worry about are a lot more complex than they were many years ago.

These complex worries can often mean that, when it comes to facing a problem, we instantly look for a complex solution.

Even when the situation doesn’t really call for it.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post – often creativity is a matter of simplicity, not complexity.

In 1845 Edgar Allen Poe wrote a tale called ‘The Purloined Letter’. It was the third in a trilogy of crime short stories about a fictional detective named C. Augustine Dupin.

In the story a letter is stolen from a seemingly secure room and used to blackmail a socialite. The police are desperately trying to find the letter and work out how it was stolen.

They spend their time searching high and low for an elaborate hiding place.

The amateur detective in the story, Dupin, realises that the letter is being hidden openly in the thief’s home and promptly finds it – much to the dismay of the police force. 

It was right in front of their noses. But they were too busy looking for the spectacular.

See? 

The answer to the problem was the simples. But everyone else was overcomplicating things and looking for something spectacular.

In creativity it can often be the same.

If you’re selling a product you can spend months searching for an incredibly clever slogan. But in reality, to sell it all you need to do is tell the customer the obvious.

e.g. – this lightbulb is twice as bright as your current bulb, and energy efficient too.

Simple, on the nose and honest. Telling the customer about two things that they want from a lightbulb.

It can also be the same with a novel. Big, convoluted paragraphs can often be simplified to appeal to the reader.

So, next time you’re tackling a problem or next time you’re being creative, have a think about Poe and ‘The Purloined Letter’. Can he help you?

(Photo credit: the famous people)

 

How kitchen roll taught me that creativity can be simple

Some 20 years ago, my first school was one of many schools that were entered into a competition.

It was run by one of the big kitchen roll companies – I can’t recall which one. 

Basically they wanted us to do a special design for some limited edition packaging.

Yep, instead of using a design firm they decided to skip costs and get eager kids to do it…

Being a creative nipper I was excited by this. But, back then, creativity to me meant that you had to try and be as far outside of the box as possible.

I didn’t think practically or subtly. And so my design looked like it had been put together by Andy Warhol after an acid flashback.

In terms of the client brief and brand it didn’t fit.

And, of course, I didn’t win.

But my best friend did. He had come up with a fairly simplistic (yet polished) design and they lapped it up.

I jealously watched as he won a shedload of plaudits and even nailed a newspaper interview.

Nowadays he channels that skill as a design engineer.

And, after learning a lot, I eventually got a break as a copywriter.

There’s a lesson here for us all. Creativity is about connecting things and sticking true to what your client or your audience will respond to and want.

There’s no such thing as simple. Not really, anyway. It’s just about having a good idea. Whether that idea is plain and conservative, or rainbow coloured – it’s about what fits.

That’s what creativity is. It can be simple. It just needs to fit the purpose.

(Photo credit: Daily Express)